March 12, 2012 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 2Comment

Making a $10,000 bet, insulting people for wearing plastic rain ponchos, and asserting that $374,000 is not much to earn in speaking fees are just a few examples of Mitt Romney being out of touch. The Republican Presidential hopeful doesn’t seem to have a clue either about how federal agencies like EPA and OSHA conduct their work. On Romney’s website, his issue brief on “Regulations” says:

“A look across the landscape shows that federal agencies today have near plenary power to issue whatever regulations they see fit. Though most are nominally controlled by the president, in actual practice agencies are frequently able to act autonomously with little or no presidential oversight. The end result is an economy subject to the whims of unaccountable bureaucrats pursuing their own agendas.”

The Republican candidate needs a reality check.

Federal agencies do not have absolute, unqualified power, in his words “plenary” power to issue regulations. Since Ronald Reagan’s Administration and pursuant to Executive Orders (e.g., EO 12866) federal agencies are required to submit all signficant regulatory actions to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Although these reviews are supposed to last no more than 120 days, there are plenty of examples of OMB taking much longer than that. One proposed OSHA rule has been at OMB for more than a year, and even initiatives that are not regulations are subjected to White House review. It’s misleading for candidate Romney to tell the public that federal agencies “…act autonomously with little or no presidential oversight.”

It’s also deceiving to suggest that federal agencies can issue whatever “regulations they see fit,” as if there are no checks and balances built into the system. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), as well as agency statutes, govern the rulemaking process, give interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations, and seek review in federal court of agencies’ actions. Before even proposing a draft regulation, EPA and OSHA must coordinate with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to receive feedback from small entity employers about the proposed rule.

I challenge candidate Romney to provide some examples from EPA or OSHA of “unaccountable bureaucrats pursuing their own agendas” with new regulations. There are none.

2 thoughts on “Mitt Romney also out of touch about regulatory agencies’ power

  1. You can damsure bet that, if elected, he will “discover” that he, indeed, has presidential oversight. And that would be a badthing.

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