Rubio wants 'national regulatory budget'

Sen. Marco Rubio called Monday for the establishment of a “national regulatory budget” to keep in check costs associated with the accumulation of rules on the books at agencies across the federal government.

The Florida Republican, believed to be angling for a presidential run in 2016, laid out the plans during a wide-ranging economic address.

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“That regulatory code needs a taste of its own medicine,” Rubio said in the speech, hosted by Google Inc. and the Jack Kemp Foundation. “It needs to be restrained and restricted.”

Under Rubio’s plan, an independent board would be created to set a national regulatory budget, which would aggregate the costs of all existing federal rules and put caps in place for each agency.

If the total exceeded levels set out in the budget, agencies would need to repeal or rework regulations.

“This would force federal agencies to enact only those regulations that truly serve an essential role,” Rubio said.

In essence, the system would require the government to remove old regulations before adding new ones.

The approach is far from novel. For years, critics of the current regulatory system have floated the idea of a one-in, one-out for rule-writing agencies, or an independent agency — akin to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — to weigh the costs and benefits of regulations.

House Republicans have put forward more than a dozen bills in the current Congress that would add new limitations on rulemaking authority at federal agencies, highlighting regulations as a major issue for the 2014 midterm elections.

President Obama has instituted his own regulatory “look-back,” directing agencies to identify rules that can be streamlined or scrapped.

Rubio, signaling the issue could also figure into the 2016 race for the White House, said his plan would “enshrine” those efforts into the rulemaking system that he contends is standing in the way of private-sector investment and innovation.

“Washington has put up a blockade of restrictions and regulations and taxes that prevent innovators from accessing the full range of opportunities offered by the American free enterprise system,” Rubio said.