Sunday, December 15, 2013

Obama postponed Obamacare, EPA rules till after 2012 election

From the Washington Post:
The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials.

Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said.

The delays meant that rules were postponed or never issued. The stalled regulations included crucial elements of the Affordable Care Act, what bodies of water deserved federal protection, pollution controls for industrial boilers and limits on dangerous silica exposure in the workplace.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said that any delays until after the election were coincidental and that such decisions were made without regard to politics. But seven current and former administration officials told The Washington Post that the motives behind many of the delays were clearly political, as Obama’s top aides focused on avoiding controversy before his reelection...

Those findings are bolstered by a new report from the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent agency that advises the federal government on regulatory issues. The report is based on anonymous interviews with more than a dozen senior agency officials who worked with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which oversees the implementation of federal rules.

The report said internal reviews of proposed regulatory changes “took longer in 2011 and 2012 because of concerns about the agencies issuing costly or controversial rules prior to the November 2012 election.”...

Ronald White, who directs regulatory policy at the advocacy group Center for Effective Government, said the “overt manipulation of the regulatory review process by a small White House office” raises questions about how the government writes regulations...

The recent decision to bring on Democratic strategist John Podesta as a senior White House adviser is likely to accelerate the number of new rules and executive orders [now that President Obama is safely ensconced in his second term], given Podesta’s long-standing support for using executive action to achieve the president’s goals despite congressional opposition....
In September of 2011, former Vice President Al Gore excoriated Mr. Obama when the latter ordered the EPA to postpone certain environmental regulations. Mr. Gore - who previously praised Obama on environmental issues - accused the President of bowing "to pressure from polluters who did not want to bear the cost of implementing new clean air standards." But Mr. Obama countered that claim by insisting that he was simply putting the regulations on hold in order to create jobs. However, it has now been confirmed by current and former administration officials that President Obama was lying at the time, and that Al Gore's assessment was off the mark. For ultimately Obama's true intention for postponing the regulations was to ensure that the regulations would not be issued before voters went to the polls.