White House to Curb Federal Regulations, Save Businesses $10 Billion

ABC News' Devin Dwyer ( @devindwyer) reports: The Obama administration today announced final plans to overhaul government-wide regulations in a move they say will save businesses at least $10 billion over five years, and help spur the creation of new jobs.

Federal agencies are rolling out “hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency,” Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote in a White House blog post.

The changes include reduced reporting requirements for hospitals and health-care providers, estimated to save $4 billion over five years; streamlined Labor Department hazard warnings, estimated to save $2.5 billion over five years; and a new EPA electronic reporting system for hazardous-waste generators, estimated to save $126 million a year.

The White House says many of the reforms are aimed at small businesses, including defense contractors, who will soon receive accelerated payments from the Defense Department to improve cash flow, and small start-up firms, which will encounter streamlined applications for government-supported loans.

President Obama initiated the regulatory review through an executive order in January, saying at the time that he wanted to curb “unreasonable burdens” on businesses and eliminate regulations that are “just plain dumb.”

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley has given additional instructions to the cabinet secretaries ”to minimize regulatory costs, avoid imposing excessive regulatory burdens, and prioritize regulatory actions that promote economic growth and job creation,” Sunstein said today in a Wall Street Journal oped.

Conservative critics of the administration say, however, that the reforms do not go far enough.

“During its first 26 months -- from taking office to mid-FY 2011-- the Obama Administration has imposed 75 new major regulations with reported costs to the private sector exceeding $40 billion. During the same period, six major rulemaking proceedings reduced regulatory burdens by an estimated $1.5 billion, still leaving a net increase of more than $38 billion,” wrote the Heritage Foundation’s James Gattuso and Diane Katz in a report last month.

Among the new regulations imposed by the administration are fuel standards for cars and trucks, energy standards for light bulbs, rules for banks and financial institutions in the Dodd-Frank law and new insurance mandates as part of the health care overhaul.

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