Obama Looks to Step Up Regulations


The fiscal cliff might be dominating political conversation around Washington, but Republicans and business groups are just as concerned about a "regulatory cliff" they fear could damage the economy.

According to the Associated Press, federal agencies and the White House sidetracked dozens of rules during the election to quell GOP criticisms of President Barack Obama as an overzealous regulator who was killing American jobs:

But since the election, the Obama administration has quietly reopened the regulations pipeline.

In recent weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules to update water quality guidelines for beaches and other recreational waters and deal with runoff from logging roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, has proposed long-delayed regulations requiring auto makers to include event data recorders — better known as "black boxes" — in all new cars and light trucks beginning in 2014.

The administration also has initiated several rules to implement its health care overhaul, including a new fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Some think federal regulations were lacking in Obama's first term. Randy Rabinowitz, director of regulatory policy at OMB Watch, said regulations being released now are overdue.

"We've been disappointed that Obama has been a tepid regulator" in his first term, Rabinowitz said, adding that she hopes the administration "moves more vigorously to protect the public from harm" in a second term.

"I would love for the election to be interpreted as a mandate for Obama to move forward with stronger protections for the public," she said.

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