Conservatives' regulatory relief plan for America
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President Obama's economic policies have mired America in below-average growth and have left behind America's middle class. At a time when Americans need robust economic growth and more jobs, the Obama administration threatens and kills projects that would create jobs, imposes costly mandates and ignores outdated, unnecessary regulations that depress growth and drive up consumer prices. It's time for a change.

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Obama's recent decisions reveal his contentment to leave our economy simply sputtering along. Last week, he concluded a seven-year review of the Keystone XL pipeline by rejecting the project, which would have created more than 42,000 jobs. And in October, Obama threatened to veto a bill that would lift the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil. According to a study from IHS Energy, lifting the ban would support an average of 394,000 more American jobs between 2016 and 2030. Despite that, the Obama White House threatens a veto.

The good news is that, contrary to what many liberals would have the American people believe, conservatives have serious, credible proposals to expand growth, create more private-sector jobs and fulfill our country's economic potential. In previous debates, conservative candidates have addressed several issues central to turning around our economy, including reforming our tax code and entitlements. There is one issue, however, that has gone largely untouched in previous debates and deserves an in-depth discussion tonight: regulatory reform. The opportunity to discuss this issue tonight should not be missed.

The Obama administration has thrown a wet blanket of costly federal regulations on our nation's economy. The American Action Forum (AAF) indicates that nearly 3,000 regulations have been finalized since Obama took office in 2009. AAF estimates these regulations cost in excess of $700 billion and have required more than 500 million hours for compliance. Other scholars estimate that regulations between 1949 and 2012 have reduced America's annual economic growth by an average of 2 percent.

Beyond these numbers, however, many onerous regulations harm low- and middle-income individuals, according to Patrick A. McLaughlin in his forthcoming book in the Conservative Reform Network's Room To Grow series. Regulations' negative impact on the American people may come as a surprise, since liberals peddle misleading claims that regulatory reform serves to benefit large corporations and the wealthy. Regulations, McLaughlin writes, raise consumer prices, making it more difficult to pay for necessary goods and services, particularly for Americans on a tight budget. McLaughlin cites the example of a 2005 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation that banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons in medical inhalers, including asthma inhalers. Since the FDA issued this regulation, born not out of health or safety concerns but from environmental ones, the price of asthma inhalers has tripled.

McLaughlin's book in the Room To Grow series identifies three solutions for regulatory reform. First, policymakers should require all agencies to conduct a high-quality, cost-benefit analysis of prospective regulations to guarantee that their benefits outweigh their costs. Second, an independent body should review existing regulations to ensure they are achieving their intended results and that their benefits exceed their costs. Finally, Congress not only should provide explicit goals for the regulations it enacts, but also should review the proposed independent reports and change regulatory statutes if necessary.

In addition to McLaughlin's work, the Conservative Reform Network's (CRN) Solutions Center addresses how to reform Washington's out-of-control regulatory scheme. Like McLaughlin, CRN's Solutions Center proposes requiring all regulatory agencies to conduct cost-benefit analysis, a move that could provide the kind of regulatory relief that would help America's families and businesses. The Solutions Center further advocates implementing the REINS Act on an agency-by-agency basis to bring Washington's unmanageable regulatory construct under control. Our Solutions Center also calls on the federal government to propose best practices for occupational licensing regulations so that we can create jobs and get Americans back into the workforce.

McLaughlin and CRN's Solutions Center offer a few of the many conservative ideas to cut unnecessary red tape and thereby unleash America's economic potential. Regulatory reform is a priority for several conservative presidential candidates, including Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Trail: Pence's knives come out Pat Fallon wins GOP nomination in race to succeed DNI Ratcliffe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Texas), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden MORE (R-Fla.); Ohio Gov. Kasich (R); and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who each feature the issue on their websites. Tonight's debate provides a platform for candidates to detail their plans to bring regulatory relief to America’s families. Such a discussion would serve as a stark contrast to progressives' penchant for producing and perpetuating poorly crafted regulations.

America faces serious problems which require serious solutions. Washington's largely unchecked regulatory scheme, which stifles our nation's economic growth and harms the American people, is one such problem. There can be a much more substantial conversation about how to grow our economy, expand America's middle class and create greater opportunity for all Americans. Tonight, candidates should address regulatory reform among their other solutions to the economic challenges facing our country.

Murray is founder and chairman of the board of the Conservative Reform Network. Follow CRN on Twitter at @ReformNetwork.