The Republican platform includes a whole section devoted to regulatory reform, calling it “the key to economic growth,” according to a draft version that Politico has posted. It’s largely just a summary of the party’s attacks on the regulations that President Obama passed and strengthened. But the GOP platform also includes suggestions for reform, including, “a sunset requirement to force reconsideration of out-of-date regulations.”
In fact, the Obama administration agrees with the basic idea that old regulations need another look. The White House doesn’t want to go nearly as far as Republicans in placing an automatic expiration date, but Obama’s regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, has made it a priority to conduct “look backs” to review regulations that are in effect, vowing to streamline or junk rules that are unnecessary or fail to prove cost effective. The White House asserts that those changes have contributed to $10 billion in savings over the next five years, as the Wall Street Journal notes.
Obama has also worked to institutionalize these regulatory “look backs”: in May, for instance, he issued an executive order “requiring federal agencies to continue to scrutinize rules on the books to see if they really make sense. Altogether, the Obama administration’s retrospective review efforts “have been more pronounced and sustained than in previous administrations,” Curtis Copeland, a government researcher and watchdog, said during a recent Sunlight Foundation event. “At least in terms of the level of effort going in, they’re heads and shoulders above other administrations.”
The White House hasn’t escaped criticism for doing these regulatory look backs—but it’s typically come from liberal advocates who are concerned that the administration is “streamlining” and throwing out regulations as a concession to business interests. And Republicans, for sure, are proposing to go much farther in terms of rolling back regulations. But both the GOP and Obama can agree that the rules on the books need greater scrutiny.