Obama's Red-Tape Relief Doesn't Cut It With Florida Chamber
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The Obama administration's announcement that it plans to roll back hundreds of regulations at 26 federal agencies is drawing yawns and more sharp criticism from Florida's business community.
"The rules keep changing. The president says don't worry, we'll change them again," Florida Chamber of Commerce president Mark Wilson said earlier this week.
"There's more than $2 trillion in capital sitting on the sidelines right now because people are afraid of the messages coming out of Washington."
Cass Sunstein, of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said proposals to shelve or revise some 500 federal rules could save more than $14 billion over five years.
Sunstein acknowledged that each passing year has produced about $5 billion in new regulations.
But Wilson said Florida businesses will believe the promised savings when they see them.
"What the administration is saying and doing are two different things. It's almost like they have two press secretaries -- one for new regs and the other for getting rid of them. Get on the same page," Wilson told Sunshine State News.
Saying the pending changes "are going to make a real difference to the American people," Sunstein cited a few examples of the rollbacks:
- Allowing doctors to practice "telemedicine" in rural areas.
- Speeding up Pentagon payments to up to 60,000 small businesses.
- Simplifying some of the Labor Department's hazard warnings for workers.
- Consolidating certain IRS reporting requirements and tax forms.
- Changing export rules and visa practices at the State Department.
More than 100 of the proposed rule changes are ticketed for the Transportation Department, the one Cabinet-level agency headed by a Republican, Ray LaHood.
But Wilson downplayed the effect of the White House announcement, noting that Floridians still face controversial new air- and water-quality edicts, and that the costly provisions of Obamacare remain intact.
Florida officials estimate that numeric nutrient criteria water rules imposed by the EPA would cost the state's agricultural industry $900 million to $1.6 billion in annual added compliance costs and could kill more than 14,000 jobs.
As for Obamacare, the head of the Congressional Budget Office testified before Congress that implementation of the health-care law would cost 800,000 jobs.
The National Federal of Independent Businesses has already seen medical insurance premiums for small businesses increasing 30 percent to 60 percent in advance of the law's implementation, as well as a rise in cancellations.
Wilson called the administration's reformist claims "disingenuous."
"They're deliberately trying to mislead the business community," he charged.
"Many people have been desensitized to daily press conferences that say things will be different. When the president says they're going to roll back regulations, they do the opposite.
"Their words are right, but haven't figured out to match their actions to those words."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., agreed, telling USA Today, "The results are underwhelming."
Sunstein asserted that the cost burden of new regulations under the Obama administration was lower than in the last two years under George W. Bush, and pledged further red-tape reductions.
"This isn't a one-shot deal," Sunstein said.
While the administration hopes to get positive media spin out of Tuesday's announcement, an unimpressed Wilson likened Sunstein's pledge to the president's promise to unveil a new "jobs program" in the coming weeks.
"The mainstream media isn't (sic) talking about Obama's original jobs plan -- a stimulus package that didn't work, sent jobless rates higher and brought less optimism," Wilson said.
"Red tape is literally strangling free enterprise. They appear to be getting what the problem is, but they continue on the path of more regulations."
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or at (772) 801-5341.