As the year-end omnibus spending bill is about to be unveiled, there will be a scramble to examine its provisions. In many policy areas, my colleagues and I have urged Congress to use its “power of the purse” to insist on significant regulatory relief as a price for the new spending in the omnibus.
I have written that Congress should freeze funding for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) “fiduciary rule,” referred to by many as “Obamacare for your IRA,” which would greatly limit investment choices in IRAs and 401(k)s and even restrict what financial broadcasters like Dave Ramsey could say to listeners.
Defunding of this rule was also urged by a letter coordinated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute that was signed by 33 conservative and free-market groups.
Similarly, my CEI colleague Trey Kovacs urges Congress to defund in the omnibus the DOL’s new “joint employer” rule, under which employers could suddenly be held liable for the actions of contractors, staffing agencies, and franchisees. My colleague Myron Ebell is pushing Congress to defund the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power” regulations that would devastate coal and manufacturing industries with no tangible public health benefits
At this point, it’s impossible to say whether the omnibus bill is worthy of support given that we don’t know what exactly is in it. But if the omnibus bill contains significant regulatory relief, then it may be worth supporting even with all the money it spends. At CEI, we argue that regulation is often the most devastating thing the government can do to a free economy and free people, more so than even taxes and spending.
Also in this year’s omnibus—given that this is the Obama administration’s last year—the regulatory relief has much more chance of having permanent good consequences than the spending would have bad consequences. If these regulations were defunded for a year, this could spare the American people negative consequences for one more year, and give a new president the opportunity to kill these horrific rules permanently!
Sometimes exercising “power of the purse” means opening the purse if the right conditions are attached to how the money is spent. If the regulatory relief in the omnibus is substantial, this may be one of those cases.