Can Someone Regulate John Boehner’s Mouth?

House Minority Leader John Boehner today endorsed a one-year freeze on all new regulations, according to Congressional Quarterly. "Having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea,” he said. “It sends a wonderful signal to the private sector that they'll have some breathing room."

BoehnerBoehner is clearly out of touch with the American people. Few want government to abandon its efforts to protect the public. For example, the vast majority of Americans surely wish government had done more to prevent the BP oil spill, and 69 percent of Americans wish government was doing more to remedy the situation; the majority of Americans still support legislation to cap climate-altering emissions; and a whopping 80 percent of Americans want Congress to pass pending food safety legislation that, among other things, gives the FDA the authority to order food recalls.

Boehner’s vision for America is terrifying – more disasters like oil spills, mine collapses, and foodborne illness outbreaks.

Boehner is also out of touch with the concept of government. A major reason Boehner is advocating for a regulatory freeze is to take the teeth out of recently passed financial reform and health care legislation. If regulators don’t work out the myriad details those laws assign to them, the laws cannot be enforced.

But lawmakers saw fit to set deadlines for many provisions in both bills, and those deadlines are now the law of the land. Agencies must enforce them. (In the case of health care reform, they’ve already started.) For more information, please consult the United States Constitution, or any sixth grade social studies text book.

Let’s also dispense with the idea that a regulatory freeze would help businesses, who are arguing they want clarity in federal regulation in order to plan their path out of economic malaise. A one-year freeze doesn’t add clarity, it makes matters worse by delaying government’s ability to set expectations.

I struck this note in another blog post earlier today, but it’s worth repeating: Given the situation in the Gulf, the tragic mine explosion in West Virginia that left 29 dead, and the many other issues Americans are forced to deal with because regulation is too often not strong enough, now is not the time to be pushing for deregulation. Boehner should apologize for his remarks.

Image by Flickr user Keith Allison; used under a Creative Commons license.

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