House GOP whip aims at Obama regs

Greg Nash

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday called for the Obama administration to “unshackle” businesses from regulations that he says are holding down the economy and slowing growth.

“We should have regulation reform, not more of it,” McCarthy said at a Washington event hosted by The Hill and sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers and National Federation of Independent Businesses.

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Republicans have sought to make President Obama’s use of regulations a major election-year issue, and this week are moving a legislative package aimed at making federal regulations more transparent and less costly to the economy.

The House GOP has repeatedly argued that Washington red tape is getting in the way of business and is holding back the recovery.

Obama has sought to use his regulatory powers to make 2015 a “year of action.” He has repeatedly said he is interested in working with Congress, but that he will not allow inaction by lawmakers to keep him from enacting change.

The administration last week unveiled plans for new regulations targeting emissions by heavy trucks. Much of the administration’s regulatory work is focused on containing climate change.

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, countered McCarthy at Wednesday’s event by arguing there are not enough regulations to protect workers and the environment. He pointed to the proposed silica dust rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as an example of a regulation that has been delayed for longer that he would have liked. 

“It's about 10 years too late,” Weissman said.

He also pointed to the recent chemical spill in West Virginia and the collapse of the financial markets in 2008 as examples where there were not enough regulations to protect the public.

“Every once in a while we get a glimpse as to what it means to not have a regulated economy,” he said.

But Republicans and business groups disagree.

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the manufacturing group, compared government regulations to "bed bugs."

“Regulations just stick around, you know, when you think about it, like bed bugs,” he said. “They tend to quietly multiply, they suck the life out of their hosts.”

But Timmons said the blame goes beyond the Obama administration.

“Regulations have proliferated when both parties have occupied the White House,” he said. “Republicans and Democrats are to blame.”

Timmons said Washington has a “broken” regulatory system.

Dan Danner, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, said “nothing is more important” to them than the effect of regulations.

“They see no end in sight,” Danner said.