White House Slashes Red Tape to Boost Economy

Government says simplified rules have potential to eliminate billions of dollars in regulatory burdens.

On May 26 the White House unveiled a series of measures to cut back on burgeoning red tape and simplify rules which it said could save U.S. businesses "billions" of dollars over the coming years. The administration hopes the move will lift some of the burdens from struggling companies and give fresh impetus to the faltering jobs market with unemployment still hovering around 9%.

In a move to boost job-creating small businesses, President Barack Obama in January ordered a review of government regulations to ensure the myriad of rules do not stifle economic growth. He signed an executive order designed to ensure the recovering economy is competitive and freed from suffocating red tape, while protecting the health of Americans, public safety and the environment. About 30 government agencies took part in the review, and the new measures should begin to have an immediate effect, U.S. officials said.

"Cumulatively, the reports that we're releasing today... would take immediate steps to eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual regulatory burdens," said White House budget director Jack Lew. "In fact, over the next several years, these steps have the potential to eliminate billions of dollars in regulatory burdens."

Among the measures unveiled was a move to simplify export forms to help boost American products on overseas markets.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said businesses would no long have to fill out "unnecessary government forms" which would cut 1.9 million annual hours of work time and save more than $40 million annually.

The Environmental Protection Agency agreed to streamline its anti-pollution measures at gasoline stations "because modern vehicles already have effective air pollution control technologies." The move could save some $670 million over the next decade.

And the Department of Health was to re-examine some of the "burdensome regulatory requirements now placed on hospitals and doctors, like requiring redundant entries of information in medical databases."

"These, and the many more changes proposed in the regulatory look-back plans, will add up to real savings for America's small businesses," the White House added.

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Aric Newhouse issued this statement today on the results of the Obama Administrations review of regulations:
"Manufacturers are encouraged by the Obama Administrations efforts to streamline or remove several outdated and unnecessary regulations to allow manufacturers to focus on what matters most -- creating jobs and economic growth. However, manufacturing workers will not fully benefit until the crushing burden of proposed new regulations is brought under control.

The Administration has taken several positive steps recently by delaying the costly EPA Boiler MACT rule and withdrawing the OSHA Noise Standard, demonstrating that the Administration has heard the concerns of manufacturers. But new burdensome regulations such as those proposed by EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and change ozone standards are a real threat to job creators and the economy. While today's announcement is a great step, more must be done to limit the cumulative burden of regulations on businesses."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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