Wicker calls for repeal of costly rules

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 24, 2016

The new Congress and White House will soon have an opportunity to roll back harmful regulations set forth by the Obama Administration – in particular those that have devastated job growth. In August, the American Action Forum – a nonprofit policy group – reported that there have been 600 major regulations with an economic impact of at least $743 billion during Obama’s presidency.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised regulatory reform during his time in office. Likewise, Republicans in Congress have already turned to the “Congressional Review Act” in an effort to reject some of Obama’s costliest rules, only to face veto threats from the White House. A Trump Administration could help reshape the regulatory landscape in the following ways:

• Curbing costly environmental overreach. I recently met with young farmers and ranchers representing the Mississippi Farm Bureau who are concerned about the impact of intrusive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. The agency’s costly and overreaching “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, for example, would force farmers, ranchers, home builders, property owners, and local municipalities to comply with bureaucratic instructions from Washington regarding bodies of water as small as ditches and ponds.

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The disastrous WOTUS rule has been tied up in litigation, but a new Republican Administration could open the door to repeal the rule. Other examples of overreach include President Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which threatens to increase consumers’ energy bills, and a rule limiting ground-level ozone, which EPA estimates will cost $1.4 billion annually by 2025.

• Empowering job creators and consumers. I voted against the Dodd-Frank overhaul in 2010 because it imposed an onslaught of regulations on small and regional banks and created a powerful agency without congressional oversight.

Most importantly, the law does little to protect the consumers it claims to help. Entrepreneurship and job growth should not be weakened because of federal rules encroaching on community banks and consumers’ access to credit. Repealing these rules is important to getting new economic investments off the ground.

• Protecting workers and retirees. President Obama’s shortsighted labor rule requiring overtime pay is not a solution – nor does it guarantee an increase in employees’ take-home pay. Instead, the rule could negatively impact employee promotions and career advancement.

Another burdensome rule, known as the “fiduciary rule,” could have a major impact on the cost of retirement planning, affecting the access that low- and middle-income Americans have to quality financial advice.

• Keeping the Internet open and competitive. A controversial set of rules known as “net neutrality” implemented under the Obama Administration could be reversed with congressional action. Instead of allowing innovation to flourish as it has for two decades, the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed “net neutrality” rules go beyond the core principles of an open Internet, treating it as a utility and leaving the door open for more government control.

The potential for President-elect Trump to appoint a new chairman could make a big difference to the Internet’s governance.

• Safeguarding local housing authority. I am opposed to the Obama Administration’s efforts to exert federal control over local zoning ordinances with the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule. Regulations promulgated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development have moved far beyond the congressional intent underlying the “Fair Housing Act.” Congress should overturn this power grab on our neighborhoods, restoring decision-making to our communities.

For the past eight years, President Obama has pursued a big-government agenda, putting power into the hands of unelected bureaucrats with onerous regulations.

I am hopeful President-elect Trump will reverse this trend, putting American livelihoods and the health of our economy first.

By U.S. Senator Roger Wicker