President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald J. Trump have something important in common. They both have a chance to help America's job creators out from under the crushing regulatory burden imposed by the federal government. First up, before President Obama leaves office, the Senate should pass the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act and send it to the president to sign.
The REINS Act would make Congress do a better job overseeing the broken regulatory process in this country by forcing a vote on every new regulation costing more than $100 million per year. If the vote fails, so does the regulation. This legislation would help to restore a measure of executive branch transparency and add some accountability to the rule-making process, now sorely lacking. And with about 40 to 50 REINS-size regulations a year, that equates to just four or five extra votes per month — a manageable task.
The problem is urgent because federal regulations are already costing the American economy almost $1.9 trillion, imposing a $15,000 hidden tax on every American household — and more are on the way. Just look at the Federal Register, which compiles incoming regulations: it's likely to top 90,000 pages this year alone, an all-time record.
Meanwhile, economic growth has been anemic for years now, job growth has lagged, and people are hurting. Before the recession of 2007-2008, the economy had been growing at a rate of more than 3% annually, but since the recession that growth slowed to just 1.4%. That means fewer jobs, fewer opportunities for people to build financial security.
Just before the election, a scant 30% of likely voters said they think the country is headed in the right direction, according to a November Rasmussen poll. That means a lot of people are living in worry and voted for change in Washington.
In another poll, the so-called "economic anxiety index" conducted by the Marketplace and Edison Research Poll, over a quarter of Americans say they lose sleep over their financial situation, nearly a half of all Americans with full- or part-time jobs say they work "just a job" as opposed to a career path, and nearly two-thirds believe "the economic system in the U.S. is rigged in favor of certain groups."
It's time for Congress and the President to listen and take action. The House of Representatives has already passed the REINS Act, but it remains stalled in the Senate, in part due to a veto threat by President Obama. But there's no reason now why the Senate and the President should remain hold outs.
There's much more that needs to be done to rein in the regulators, starting in January with the new Congress and President: from reinstating a Reagan executive order requiring the White House do more to assess the costs and benefits of new regulations, to establishing a new regulatory reduction commission aimed at eliminating big cost/little benefit regulations, to passing legislation ending the favoritism given to regulatory agencies by courts.
Passing the REINS Act is a start. It's one crucial way Congress and the President could get a better handle on what regulations are doing to people and improve their chances for a better standard of living.
Originally posted to Investor's Business Daily.