Attempts at Relief and Reform

GOP Oversight Report: Excessive Regulation Could Hinder U.S. Hopes of “Winning the Future”

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A preliminary report issued Feb. 10 by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) — based on nearly 2,000 pages of letters from business groups — asserts that federal regulations are harming U.S. competitiveness and contributing to unemployment, especially in the manufacturing sector (Daily Caller, Feb. 9).

Numerous regulations identified in the report as potentially problematic address issues with direct implications for commercial real estate:

• The “nearly 500 rulemakings stemming from the Dodd-Frank Act that are scattered throughout a number of agencies”;
• Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposals to expand regulations affecting development and construction under the Clean Water Act. These include measures proposed by EPA that could require retrofits of existing properties to control precipitation runoff, and a controversial model for pollutant loading in the Chesapeake Bay that the agency intends to export nationwide. [As reported in past editions of Roundtable Weekly, The Roundtable has participated in various coalition efforts to inform Congress and EPA on an array of legal and technical issues with the agency’s regulatory agenda in the water quality arena.]
• EPA efforts to regulate possible lead paint hazards that may arise from renovating commercial buildings. [Over the past year, real estate organizations (including The Roundtable) have urged the agency to obtain more data before proceeding with potential new regulations covering lead dust in public and commercial buildings.]

The Feb. 10 Oversight Committee report is part of a broader House GOP effort, spearheaded by Issa, to scrutinize federal regulations and their impact on U.S. job creation and competitiveness (The Washington Post, Feb. 7).
“A common misconception is that new regulatory requirements can translate into new compliance positions, which should help put people back to work,” the report says. “However, regulatory compliance burdens actually divert resources away from productive positions and channel investment toward compliance roles … Resources and personnel devoted to regulatory compliance are not able to contribute towards producing the goods and services that consumers value.”
Although it commends President Obama for his Jan. 18 executive order on this subject as well as his outreach to some of the nation’s largest companies to learn about their regulatory concerns, the report says “this strategy risks leaving out the millions of small business owners and businesses that have been affected by the recession at even greater levels.” Thus, the report’s particular focus on how excessive regulation is affecting small businesses.

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