Norquist: Let's rein in regulation while Congress takes up tax and healthcare reform

In January, congressional Republicans began using a Bill ClintonBill ClintonFormer Defense chief: I would have threatened to resign over Trump's transgender ban Ex-Cruz aide: Trump presidency 'is effectively over' OPINION | Gen. Hayden: How the Russians played the Trumps MORE-signed law known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to undo fourteen of Obama’s “midnight” regulations that were finalized in the final six months of his administration. Repealed regulations include new labor, Internet, energy, environmental, and gun rules. The deadline to invoke the CRA has now passed and as Congress takes up healthcare and tax reform, the Trump administration and the bureaucracy now under his control must continue to take aim at even more regulations imposed in recent years.

There are several opportunities for reining in the regulatory state that don’t require any studies, drawn out debates, or much thought.

First, Trump should focus on financial rules and labor. The “Fiduciary Rule” has got to go. Although the rule partially went into effect on June 9, the Labor Department still has the option to roll back the rule through a new rule making process. Alternatively the more expedient option would be for Congress to target funding for enforcement of the rule, which if unaltered will adversely impact millions of Americans by putting the federal government between Americans and their retirement savings decisions. Without a full rollback of the rule, seven million IRA holders could be priced out of investment advice, meaning less IRAs and less American savings.

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Next, the Republican Senate should quickly consider and confirm two new Trump appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which has served as a tool of Big Labor under Democrat control. Two seats on the board are vacant and if Trump nominees are confirmed with 51 votes, Republicans will have a majority on the five-member board. Instead of waging a war on businesses through things like the Joint Employer Standard that dismantles the American franchise model and makes independently managed small businesses more susceptible to coerced unionization, the NLRB should properly balance the interests of employees and their employers. The NLRB should not simply serve as a tool for forced-unionization.

 

Under President Trump, the war on America’s energy sector by radical environmentalists is and must end. A helpful first step included a withdraw of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, an Obama promise to limit greenhouse gasses in the future that was never actually Senate-approved.

In March, President Trump signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Administrator Scott Pruitt to review former President Obama’s signature environmental regulation, the "Clean Power Plan,” which is on hold currently due to litigation. Trump and Pruitt have since released a replacement plan for the regulation that is now being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prior to being released for public comment. It is important that there be a complete roll back of the Clean Power Plan. 

Finally, bureaucrats shouldn’t be permitted to wage a war on innovation in the public health space. With the confirmation of Dr. Scott Gottlieb as the 23rd Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is great hope that under his leadership, the agency will expedite the approval of drugs, products, and technologies that save lives.

It is not only important that the process for introducing life-saving drugs or medical devices be made easier and less expensive, but there is perhaps an easier target for regulatory reform that stands to impact the health of tens of millions of Americans: the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). One of the core obligations of the center is to oversee the innovation, development, and introduction of products that are less harmful than cigarettes to the market. To date, they have miserably failed at this task and without statutory or obligatory reforms it’s only going to get worse.

The growth of the independent vapor product market and the 2016 decision by the FDA to classify those products as “tobacco” exacerbates the need for immediate reform at the center. Moving forward, the FDA should require that the center conduct proper and transparent rulemaking so that regulated businesses also know the rules by which the FDA actually conducts product reviews. Rather than spending resources guessing what the FDA may request or demand, businesses can invest in the U.S. and hire more employees to develop new products that are less harmful than cigarettes.

Slow-rolling the approval of products with an ad hoc process governed by non-binding guidance documents is not how a government entity, let alone a scientific organization, should operate. The current broken process ultimately will result in fewer of America’s forty million smokers from taking advantage of choices and technologies that may result in better health outcomes. The FDA and CTP should no longer stand in the way. 

As Congress determines the best path forward on repealing Obamacare and then passing comprehensive rate-reducing tax reform, these regulatory reform opportunities represent an easy focus by different Trump appointees and the administration itself. Each of these reforms should represent big wins for taxpayers, consumers, and small businesses.

Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit aimed at supporting limited government.


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