White House Advances Anti-Regulatory Hit List
The White House waited until eight days before Christmas to reveal its new regulatory ï¿½reformï¿½ plan instructing agencies to review and complete action plans on a regulatory hit list of over 200 suggestions for reversing protections of the public interest, mostly proposed by industry lobbyists.The vehicle for the anti-regulatory plan is the annual report from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on the costs and benefits of regulation. Under the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act, OIRA is required to prepare the annual report, making a draft available for public comment. Just as in past years, OIRA Administrator John Graham opted to use the draft report as an occasion to invite industry to suggest regulations to be ï¿½reformedï¿½ in order to benefit the manufacturing sector.
In the final report, the White House summarized the publicï¿½s suggestions and put forward two sets of its own suggestions, all of which the agencies must review by Jan. 24, before the White House announces in February its ï¿½regulatory reform priorities.ï¿½
The vast bulk of the publicï¿½s nominations for the hit list are directed at environmental regulations, with most others targeting workersï¿½ rights and safety (in particular regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and rules that implement the Family and Medical Leave Act).
Among the protections targeted by industry for reversal and other industry giveaways are the following:
- Privatizing the development and enforcement of regulations ï¿½ taking those tasks out of government and entrusting them to private contractors
- Keeping consumer complaints out of the public until substantiated
- Relieving air carrier suppliers of the duty to subject employees to drug and alcohol testing
- Weakening even further the rules governing maximum hours that companies can force their truck drivers to work
- Exempting more auto industry manufacturers from the requirement to submit information of potential defects to an early warning database
- Weakening groundwater cleanup goals
- Rolling back a 2001 rule that lowered the reporting threshold for lead
- Weakening or eliminating the FCCï¿½s ï¿½Do Not Faxï¿½ rule
- Altering the rules for listing species on the threatened and endangered lists
- Allowing employers to count guaranteed family and medical leave against employees when distributing perfect attendance benefits
- Weakening worker rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act by forcing workers with FMLA grievances into arbitration instead of the courts
- Allowing mine companies to avoid improving work conditions by instead rotating miner shifts to reduce workersï¿½ exposure to diesel particulate matter
- Weakening protections against Listeria for makers of ready-to-eat meat products
In addition to the industry-nominated hit list, the White House issued two sets of its own anti-regulatory directives. One, which the White House titled ï¿½Promising Regulatory Reforms,ï¿½ is a fast-track list identifying rulemakings in an early stage of the process that the White House is pushing the agencies to propel to a higher priority status. The other, called ï¿½Unfinished Business,ï¿½ is essentially the White Houseï¿½s own nominations for the hit list.
Items on the White Houseï¿½s fast-track list include the following:
- Mercury rule
- Introducing ï¿½flexibilityï¿½ into Title IX regulations securing equal opportunity for women in higher education
- Changes to ease burden on healthcare providers of medical privacy regulations
- Completing the rollback of the roadless rule
- Implementing structural overhaul of vehicle fuel economy regulations
Items on the White House hit list include the following:
- Granting variances from safe drinking water standards to ï¿½economically disadvantaged systemsï¿½
- Weakening patient protections that require a doctor to inspect any patient placed in restraints within one hour of the restraint
- ï¿½Streamliningï¿½ HUD predatory lending rules
In order to secure positive spin for the hit list, OIRA added suggestions for reforms that include completion of an OSHA rule on hexavalent chromium (which the agency is already required to finish under court order) and auto safety protections against frontal offset crashes (which most automakers already incorporate because of regulations in foreign markets). Several of them ï¿½ such as food labeling of trans fats and ensuring that school lunch nutritional guidance does not increase the risk of diabetes ï¿½ have nothing at all to do with improving manufacturing employment, which was notionally the reason for the hit list.
Track developments related to the hit list and get more information on our website at www.ombwatch.org/taxonomy/term/151.