Lawmakers call for 'smarter' regs from Obama administration

Lawmakers from both parties took shots at regulators Wednesday during a Joint Economic Committee hearing, urging them to review red tape from Washington they say is tripping up the economy.

Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said it is “shameful” that an average of only three out of 1,000 regulations go through a cost-benefit analysis from the White House's Office of Management and Budget before they go into effect.

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“For a nation seeking a smarter, more efficient government, that is just shameful,” he said.

The Joint Economic Committee is made up of House and Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Brady called for regulators to find the “least costly, least intrusive way” for regulators to protect the public.

Brady pointed to a bill he introduced known as the Sound Regulation Act that calls for regulators to provide three scenarios and conduct a cost-benefit analysis on each before moving forward with costly rules.

“There's always a natural tension between regulation and business, there should be a healthy tension, but I've never seen it where it is today,” he said.

He was joined by the committee's vice chairwoman, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), in calling for a more efficient regulatory system.

“Americans expect a common sense approach to regulation,” Klobuchar said. “They want to have their water and air protected, but they also don't want to stifle innovation.”

"There's more to be done to ensure smart, efficient regulations," she added.

Klobuchar singled out the Food and Drug Administration for “interfering with the delivery of life-saving products.” She went on to say that improving the regulatory system would require a “shift in culture” at the agency.

Klobuchar also called on the State Department to speed up the process for foreign tourists seeking travel visas to the U.S. She pointed out that the average tourist spends $4,000, but feared the U.S. is “losing business” to other countries, because it takes too long for foreigners to get visas.

Brady and Klobuchar agreed that regulations play an important role in protecting the air, water and food supply, and in preventing financial fraud. But they both said this should be done in a more efficient way that doesn't disrupt the nation's economic success.

“We should not to anything to interfere with safety or security, but should look at cutting red tape as part of the solution,” Klobuchar said.