An op-ed in one of President Obama’s hometown papers, the Chicago Sun-Times, highlights the 4,257 new regulations that his administration currently has in the works (219 of which will cost at least $100 million apiece, annually). The op-ed draws particular attention to one specific regulatory effort: the Environmental Protection Agency’s backdoor attempt to impose cap and trade.
Having failed to get cap and trade through an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, the Obama administration has now moved on to Plan B. As Time magazine has noted, “On Jan. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted what are the first regulations of modern stationary sources of greenhouse gases.” Time reports that while EPA administrator Lisa Jackson is claiming to be proceeding in a “measured and careful” manner, “eventually the EPA will be issuing regulations for nearly all sources of greenhouse gases.” Time concludes that the EPA is simply “taking its time as it embarks on what could be the most far-reaching environmental regulatory scheme in American history.”
In the Sun-Times op-ed, Congressman Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) writes, “Just one rule has Chicago White Metal Casting, a Bensenville [Ill.] manufacturer employing 240, fighting to survive in an already tough economy. They’ll soon face a restriction regulating greenhouse gases from stationary sources. After the congressional defeat of cap and trade, the EPA began implementing the job-destroying scheme through regulations.”
The EPA claims that it is merely implementing the Clean Air Act (which was passed 41 years ago). But long-time Democratic congressman John Dingell (D., Mich.), an author of that act, says that such EPA regulation would be a “glorious mess,” adding that “it seems to me to be insane that we would be talking about leaving this kind of judgment…to a long and complex process of regulatory action.” Dingell adds, “This is not what was intended by the Congress and by those of [us] who wrote that legislation....So we are beginning to look at a wonderfully complex world which has the potential for shutting down or slowing down virtually all industry and all economic activity and growth.”
Fellow Democratic representative Colin Peterson (D., Minn.) echoes Dingell’s assessment, saying that such regulation by the EPA would result “in one of the largest and most bureaucratic night-mares that the U.S. economy and Americans have ever seen.”
Even Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget largely seems to concur, writing: “Making the decision to regulate CO2 under the [Clean Air Act] for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities.”
Several states have already sued the EPA, claiming that its efforts exceed its lawful authority. Time writes that, under Governor Rick Perry, Texas has been “going further, simply refusing to comply with the new rules entirely.” The EPA responded by attempting to take direct control of Texas’s air-pollution enforcement. The matter is currently in federal court.
In an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday, Charles Krauthammer talked about the Obama administration’s regulatory ambitions. “The problem I have is the procedure,” Krauthammer said. “Under our constitutional system, the executive executes the laws that Congress has passed. It should not be executing laws that Congress has rejected.”
In his Sun-Times op-ed, Rep. Roskam also writes about an upcoming regulation that seems to be related to first lady Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative:
“In an entirely different sector, Illinois-based food producer Sara Lee could soon face lower sales and higher costs and provide fewer jobs if the administration goes through with a particularly overreaching food regulation that would dramatically restrict their ability to advertise many food products — in the name of fighting childhood obesity.
“…the proposed guideline would eliminate Sara Lee-owned Ballpark Hot Dogs’ sponsorship of baseball’s Detroit Tigers, restrict athletes from appearing on General Mills’ Wheaties cereal and restrict Sara Lee from advertising a lean turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread during the Super Bowl, all because people under 18 represent large audiences for these advertisements.”
As I wrote in a piece called "Route 66, Tocqueville, and Obamacare," liberty and prosperity are greatly intertwined: “In [the] flourishing of creativity, we see the evidence of liberty. We see the result of people being free to start, run, and patronize establishments of their own choosing, exercising their rights to do so just as the American Founders intended and fought to allow.” Obama is fighting a very different fight, which he is determined to advance through legislation where possible (Obamacare) and regulatory action where necessary. But the simple truth is, neither liberty nor prosperity is compatible with the hyperactive regulatory state that his administration is steadily working to impose.