Tidal Wave of New Regulations Underscores Need for Congressional Action

The Executive Branch has been on a veritable “regulation spree” lately, packing in as many new rules as possible before the clock winds down on this Administration. Just last week, the ill-advised Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a creation of Dodd-Frank, announced a “proposed regulation that would prohibit the use of arbitration agreements in consumer financial products.” The rule has the potential to unleash a whole new set of class action lawsuits and seems to help lawyers – who benefit from large payouts in class action suits and who will be paid big-bucks to rewrite many layers of new fine-print – far more than the consumers the bureau is tasked with protecting.

The very same day, the Food and Drug Administration gave notice of a final rule that broadens the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes. This will retroactively impose 2007 rules currently applied to cigarettes to an entirely different kind of product, subjecting each new iteration of vapor and other e-cigarette products to a lengthy and expensive regulatory gauntlet. Reason.com calls the rule a “slow-motion ban on e-cigarettes” with each application “expected to cost $1 million or more, and a separate application will be required for each version of a product.”  This is terrible news for small businesses and consumers.

These new regulations come on top of numerous other recent Administrative rule-making including:

  • The Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule for financial advisors, which will raise costs and limit access to financial advice.
  • The Clean Power Plan, which will increase energy costs and force 150,000-200,000 people out of jobs.
  • The National Labor Relation Board’s unprecedented expansion of the joint-employer standard,  upending the traditional corporation/franchise, contractor/sub-contractor, and other working relationships.

Our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute found that 2015 was a record year for the Federal Register, the collection of current federal rules and regulations, with 81,611 pages. And that doesn’t even count all the rules federal agencies attempted to impose, but withdrew, like the Internal Revenue Service’s ill-fated plan to get their hands on the personal donor information of non-profit organizations.

With more than half a year left to go in the current Administration, there’s plenty of opportunities for federal agencies to continue to get up to even more costly, burdensome, jobs-killing mischief. That’s why it’s important that Congress take action and pass H.R. 4956, the “End Executive Overreach Act.”

This legislation, introduced by Representative Dr. Tom Price (R-GA), would suspend major rule making authority and defund further executive orders, effectively imposing a regulatory moratorium until January 21, 2017 – the end of the current Administration.

Regulatory overreach levies a high toll on our economy, consumers, and job growth. It erects a high barrier around industries that keeps start-ups out and small businesses, who can’t afford the time and costs involved with compliance, from fulfilling their potential. The regulatory freeze prescribed by H.R. 4956 isn’t just a means to keep big government in check, it’s a breather from the constant threat of new regulations and a constantly changing playing-field that businesses desperately need.

NTU urges all Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 4956.