GOP candidates pledge assault on Obama’s regs

GOP candidates pledge assault on Obama’s regs
© Getty Images

In a crowded GOP presidential field rife with discord, there is at least one thing the candidates agree on: Dramatic steps must be taken to slow the pace of federal regulation.

And while Republican White House hopefuls are united in their view that federal rulemakers have run amok during the Obama administration, their plans to slash red tape vary widely in terms of scope and substance.


An analysis of the candidates’ regulatory platforms found cost-cutting proposals that range from formal policies to blanket vows to cracking down on particular agencies to doing away with many of President Obama’s signature rules. 

Last week, for instance, Ohio Gov. John Kasich rolled out a regulatory platform that includes a one-year moratorium on all major new rules to “give businesses a respite from the costs of Obama administration regulations and allow time to overhaul the regulatory process.”

This proposed overhaul includes a mandatory cost-benefit analysis for all new regulations, a measure that other candidates —retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates MORE (Fla.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally MORE (S.C.) — have also proposed.

In what Rubio calls a “national regulatory budget,” he proposes agencies establish regulatory budget caps and balance costs and benefits.

Last month, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced he would require regulators to live within a budget: Every dollar of a proposed rule’s cost would require agencies to find a dollar in regulatory relief. 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has a similar plan. Under his “regulatory zero” rule, however, a regulation of equal cost must be set to expire or immediately removed for each new rule imposed. 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales MORE (Ky.) went a step further, saying he believes two rules should be repealed for each new one proposed. 

Paul has strongly advocated for rolling back agency’s regulatory authority. Earlier this year, he introduced the House-passed Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act in the Senate to give Congress the final say over all major rules. 

The bill failed to make it out of committee but attracted support from businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both rival presidential candidates.

Fiorina said she plans to unilaterally roll back the rules Obama issued through executive orders and perform a top-to-bottom review of all new rules. In addition to cost-benefit analysis, she said, rules need to have expiration dates and Congress needs to have authority to oversee them. 

“We actually are no longer a nation of laws. We’ve become a nation of rules,” Fiorina said in an interview on RFD-TV earlier this month.

One of the most detailed plans comes from Santorum, who proposes repealing ObamaCare, the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and any Obama administration regulation with an annual economic impact greater than $100 million.

While their plans differ, virtually all the candidates have regularly criticized the current state of regulation with fiery remarks and promises to take on federal red tape if elected.

“From Common Core to the IRS to the EPA, the Washington political machine’s mind-numbing regulatory insanity and overreach needs to be burned to the ground so we can rebuild America,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared in a statement to
The Hill.

Some experts brush off the candidates’ forceful language as an effort to win support from the conservative base on the campaign trail.

“It’s a throw-away,” said James Thurber, professor of political science and director of the Center of the Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

“Yes, they can have statements on general policy and budgets, but I don’t think it gets many votes.”

To be sure, the much smaller Democratic field has largely backed stronger rules on everything from gun control and campaign finance to Wall Street and the environment.

Throw-away statements or not, the GOP rhetoric has not gone unnoticed by proponents of strong public health and safety protections, who warn that a Republican president, along with a GOP-led Congress, could spell disaster come 2017.

“If what ends up happening is a blanket moratorium for any specific period of time, you’re looking at a situation of no regulation whatsoever no matter how common-sense or reasonable it is,” said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen.

“The fact that Republican candidates are proposing health and safety moratoriums shows how radical their intentions are when it comes to regulatory reform.”

Thurber said the decision by some campaigns to issue formal platforms is likely to force others to follow suit.

“In the iron law of emulation, when one candidate does it, the other candidates will jump on it,” Thurber said.

Thus far, some candidates — businessman Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez and Cruz's dialogue shows common ground isn't just for moderates Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists MORE (Texas), Jindal and Huckabee — have issued more general criticism of the regulatory process or targeted specific agencies.

Trump, for example, has promised to make deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Education budgets.  He said the EPA comes out with a new regulation every week.

“What they do is a disgrace,” he told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace earlier this month.

In speeches on the campaign trail, Cruz has threatened to take on not only the EPA but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and “the alphabet soup of federal regulators that have descended like locusts on small business,” which he said would “unchain booming economic growth.”

In his energy plan, Jindal recommended overhauling the EPA. He suggested stripping the agency of its authority to issue rules that cost more than $100 million

“The EPA was not designed as a lawmaking body, but it has effectively become one, violating Congress’ Constitutional authority,” he says in his 43-page plan.

Though Carson has yet to release his economic platform, a spokesman said it’s coming and will include a section on regulatory reform.

“He believes very strongly that regulations are one of the biggest stifling influences on the economy — poor regulations, ineffective regulations and unnecessary regulations,” Doug Watts told The Hill on Tuesday.

Though former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore has not released a plan, he has more generally said that government needs to get out of way of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The campaigns of Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki did not respond to questions from The Hill, but both have stated positions supporting fewer