In the midst of ongoing debt ceiling negotiations, Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., is highlighting a little known piece of legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., that is being promoted as a way to spur job growth and tackle burdensome regulation.
The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, is designed to “eliminate excessive … red tape” to jump start the economy. It would require that Congress take an up-or-down vote on any major rules that would have more than $100 million annual economic impact, which supporters have called an effort to achieve more transparency in the federal government.
“The REINS Act will ensure Congressional accountability for the regulations that have the greatest impact on our economy,” Davis said on his website.
Critics, however, point out that the GOP plan would result in government gridlock because lawmakers don’t have the time to look at every regulatory rule for a vote. It could also be used as a backdoor to gut legislation that passed Congress.
From The New Republic:
The REINS Act is built on the faulty premise that the regulatory state is out of control. It’s easy to mock government rules, of which there are many, if you focus only on their costs and ignore their benefits. But, in reality, every major federal rule is already subject to extensive cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and, under President Obama and President Bush, OMB has consistently concluded that the benefits of federal regulations far outweigh the costs.
The problem with this scenario is that, unlike a federal agency, which will always have to publicly justify its decisions with scientific and economic data, Congress could use the REINS Act to kill rules on virtually any premise it wanted—and do so behind closed doors or without much substantive debate. Politics, not sound policy, could rule the day.