President Obama is "shattering all records" for imposing costly regulations on business, and Senate Democrats' elimination of the filibuster to oppose presidential nominees will only worsen the problem, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue said Tuesday.
"This administration is doubling down on its massive regulatory agenda," Mr. Donohue said. "There is no such thing as a lame-duck president when it comes to regulations."
He blasted the Senate for easing rules last month to approve executive-branch nominees by a majority vote, including judges who often rule on federal regulations.
"The nuclear option in the Senate, invoked with the full backing of the administration, will further accelerate the regulatory avalanche and we must be prepared for it," Mr. Donohue said. "Now, presidential nominees to lower courts can be approved by a simple 51 votes. It accelerates the disturbing trend we've seen of the White House to rule by regulation and executive fiat."
In a speech at the chamber's headquarters near the White House, Mr. Donohue accused the Obama administration of saddling businesses with new rules under Obamacare and other laws such as the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.
"There are too damn many of them," Mr. Donohue said. "Growth is being squandered and freedoms seriously undermined by an out of-control regulatory bureaucracy."
The White House didn't respond to a request for comment on Mr. Donohue's criticisms. During his first term, Mr. Obama often touted his administration's efforts to eliminate outdated regulations and limit the growth of new ones.
The president's regulatory policy was raised as an issue by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in the 2012 election campaign. One independent fact-checking organization found that during Mr. Obama's first three years in office, he imposed 24 percent more "economically significant regulations" than Republican President George W. Bush did in the same time frame.
Mr. Donohue, who criticized Mr. Obama in his first term for imposing a "tsunami" of regulation, said the problem is getting worse in the president's second term. He said major regulations -- those that cost the economy more than $100 million per year -- have increased 80 percent in the past 10 years, from 124 in 2003 to 224 last year.
"Put simply, they're costing jobs and growth in our country," Mr. Donohue said. "Things are only getting worse. Any way you measure it, the pace of rule-making is accelerating."
The nation's top spokesman for industry said regulators under Mr. Obama have become part of a powerful and unaccountable fourth branch of government.
"Stakeholders and average citizens are being shut out, secret deals are being cut behind closed doors, data is being cherry-picked," Mr. Donohue said. "Congress is ceding too much authority to the agencies, who abuse that freedom by twisting congressional intent to serve their own ideological agendas."
The chamber conducted a study that found at least 60 examples between 2009 and 2012 in which the Environmental Protection Agency engaged in what Mr. Donohue called a friendly "sue-and-settle" policy with advocacy groups, with the agency resolving claims in a process that resulted in more than 100 additional regulations.
Mr. Donohue promised "a much more intense focus" by the chamber in legal battles against the administration's rule-making. He said Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank law are two of the major offenders spawning a multitude of regulations.
"Take Obamacare -- a convoluted, sprawling piece of legislation that has spawned a flood of regulations," Mr. Donohue said. "As of September, the administration has already published 109 rules governing Obamacare. Together, these regulations total more than 10,000 pages -- eight times longer than the Bible."
He said the chamber will work to advocate two pieces of bipartisan legislation in Congress to curb regulations: one to modernize the regulatory process and another to reform how the federal government grants permits.
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