The Coming Regulatory Black Hole

Forget the fiscal cliff. Sooner or later -- probably later -- Speaker Boehner and the president are going to come to an agreement that will raise taxes on the wealthy with a solemn, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die promise from the Democrats to cut an unspecified amount from the budget at an unspecified later date.

Just when the Democrats are going to screw over the GOP and refuse to make any significant budget cuts or engage in negotiations that would reform entitlements will also be unspecified.

But there is another looming crisis for the taxpayer and businesses large and small. It is the flood of new regulations that will be issued in the coming months. Delayed by the White House before the election because their implementation would have adversely affected business and cost jobs, thousands of new rules will be issued that will cost American business an estimated $100 billion. This is on top of the already gargantuan regulatory burden that the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates at $1.8 trillion -- $215 billion this year alone.

Just how many new regulations will business have to deal with? We don't know because the administration has failed to issue a report, required by law, that would set out Obama's regulatory agenda. The Heritage Foundation's Diane Katz explains:

Congress mandated a regulatory agenda from each agency in 1980 under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The statute calls for release every April and October of a description of all rules likely to have a “significant economic impact” on a substantial number of small entities. A series of subsequent executive orders extended agenda requirements to all regulations under development or review by some 60 departments, agencies, and commissions.

Of course, the Obama administration is no stranger to flouting the law when it comes to deadlines. Senator Coburn pointed out that the administration has failed to meet dozens of deadlines when it comes to Obamacare alone. It also missed a budget deadline last summer, failing to send Congress a mid-session review. Most recently, the president was late with his report to Congress on the impact on departments and agencies of going over the fiscal cliff.

What is it with these people? They're like college kids putting a major paper off until the last minute and then pulling an all-nighter to write it. But in the case of the regulatory agenda that is required by law to be submitted to Congress twice a year, the Obama administration fell asleep in the middle of the night and woke up a year later. Their last regulatory agenda report was in the fall of 2011.

The dog must have eaten the Spring 2012 report, and the Fall 2012 agenda must have been lost in the campus mail.

Senator Rob Portman was forced to send a scolding letter to the president, reminding him he's not following the law:

"For nearly three decades, presidents of both parties have published their plans for new regulations twice a year,” Portman wrote to Obama today. “Now, with the spring plans still missing, the Fall 2012 Regulatory Agenda is also overdue. In light of this apparent trend, I am writing to inquire whether your Administration has chosen to abandon this tradition of transparency altogether."

Now that the election is over, it is obvious why the administration has refused to update Congress on its regulatory plans. There are as many as 4100 rules in the pipeline ranging from the annoying to the tortuous. And the White House bottled them up for "review" until the president was safely re-elected because many of them are so onerous that they would have cost jobs.