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Regulation is Strangling America: It's Time for Congress to Act

The administration's rule-by-regulation is one of the prime reasons why our economy remains stagnant.

The U.S. Capitol Building stands in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. When Congress returns to Washington on Nov. 12, lawmakers' to-do list will include a longer-term government funding measure and legislation setting Defense Department policy. Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Anyone listening to this administration and its regulators would think we’re just a few more regulations away from prosperity.

In fact, as TheBlaze readers well know, this has been the slowest recovery on record since the Great Depression, and we’re still over 5 million jobs short of what the average recovery since 1960 would have given us. America’s growth engine has seized up, and the rust is caused by the Obama administration’s wave of regulation.

It’s time for Congress to apply some deregulatory oil to get the nation moving again.

Unfortunately, deregulation rarely excites either the public or members of Congress. Many see it as difficult and tedious. To help Congress put economic liberalization front and center, where it belongs, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has compiled “Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 114th Congress.” This comprehensive analysis details specific, achievable action items that Congress can pursue to help spur growth.

The U.S. Capitol Building stands in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. When Congress returns to Washington on Nov. 12, lawmakers' to-do list will include a longer-term government funding measure and legislation setting Defense Department policy. Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images The U.S. Capitol Building stands in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images 

Some might prompt a knock-down, drag-out fight with the White House and its allies on the left. For example, the president has said he would veto any attempt to alleviate the problems caused by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act. Others will result in incremental changes that are a necessary first step, like passage of the REINS Act, which would require Congress to vote on economically significant regulations—those with estimated annual costs of $100 million or more.

In many cases, Congress will need to reassert control over agencies that have abused the powers delegated to them. The National Labor Relations Board is a case in point. It recently decided, ignoring years of precedent, that franchising companies should be held accountable for the employment practices of their franchisees. If allowed to stand, this would threaten the franchise system that has proven an effective means for entrepreneurs to open their own businesses. At a minimum, Congress should reverse this decision and others like it, but ideally it should go further and reintroduce checks and balances into labor relations by sending labor disputes to Article III Courts.

Congress should also overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which threatens to substantially increase electricity prices, raise alarming grid reliability concerns, and put thousands of people out of work in the coal industry. This represents an EPA power grab over state electricity policies through an implausible interpretation of the Clean Air Act for a purpose Congress never intended. Congress can pass a law clarifying that the EPA does not have this power.

Congress should also:

  • Pass the National Regulatory Budget Act, which would restrict the number of regulations that can be enacted and create a much-needed Office of Regulatory Analysis.
  • Repeal the cap on the fees banks can charge on debit cards, under the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law; this has increased banking fees and added around a million people to the ranks of the “unbanked” since 2010.
  • Freeze the Renewable Fuel Standard, which has increased both the price of food and the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from agriculture.
  • Stop buying more federal land and end the practice of using wilderness area classifications and the Antiquities Act to put more and more land out of use.
  • Pass the Freedom from Union Violence Act to rein in violent behavior and intimidation in labor disputes.
  • Reform the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approval process for genetically modified plants to require that only high-risk modifications be approved for commercial use.
  • Preempt any attempts by the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the Internet like a public utility.
  • Free up our aging transportation infrastructure by allowing states to toll their own interstate highway segments and commercializing air traffic control like most of the rest of the world.

With annual regulatory costs approaching $1.9 trillion a year, regulatory reform has become as pressing a problem as Obamacare or high public spending. Of course, there is no magic bullet to fix the morass of regulations Washington has been piling up since the 1930s. That will require a sustained legislative effort and a lot of political will.

Free to Prosper offers some good places to start. The time for action is now.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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