Ronald Reagan, as part of a "regulatory reform" package, last week became the first major presidential candidate dating back to Franklin Roosevelt to endorse the legislative veto, a plan that would permit Congress to overturn easily government rules and programs.
In a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, noticed primarily for Reagan's statements about the environment, the Republican candidate said he would support granting both Congress and the president "greater authority to veto regulations approved by executive agencies." At the same time, Reagan endorsed a variety of other measures labeled regulatory reform.
The proposals are a combination of standard Republican anti-regulatory rhetoric, measures either endorsed or under study by the Carter administration, and proposals -- such as legislative veto -- that have languished in Congress for some time. Carter has repeatedly fought congressional efforts to tack legislative veto provisions onto regulatory reform and other bills.
While endorsing some Carter programs, Reagan called the administration's regulatory success stories, such as enactment of trucking, airline and banking deregulation bills, "highly publicized examples of 'showcase deregulation,' where Mr. Carter acceded to congressional demands" to deregulate. Reagan went on to call Carter "The biggest regulator in history."
White House officials reacted angrily to those assertions. "If he thinks that, he wasn't following those battles very closely," said one, noting the long congressional fights over transportation deregulation. The officials also noted that Reagan last week won the endorsement of the Teamsters union, a move the truckers attributed, in part, to Carter's aggressive support for trucking deregulation.
Specifically, Reagan listed a six-point program designed to "better control the growth of federal regulation." Reagan proposed replacing some regulations with "more flexible performance standards," a change actively pushed by Carter's Regulatory Council.
In addition, Reagan proposed requiring "detailed cost-benefit analyses of all sets of proposed regulations." As Murray Weidenbaum, director of Washington University's Center for the Study of American Business and the head of Reagan's regulatory task force, explained, this proposal would go further than a Carter executive order forcing executive branch agencies to perform such studies. The Reagan proposal would force all federal agencies, Weidenbaum said, to make decisions on the "basis of dollars and cents."
Reagan also endorsed the establishment of an annual regulatory budget, another program discussed within the Carter administration and now under active study by the Office of Management and Budget.
Further, the Reagan package endorsed so-called "sunset" programs, which in a variety of forms have been supported, if not two agressively, by the Carter administration. Sunset proposals call for government programs and regulations to expire periodically unless specificallly reauthorized by Congress.
Finally, the Reagan plan calls for review of regulations where scientific or technical knowledge may have made the rules obsolete.
Reagan's regulatory program was announced on the same day that the Carter administration released a report clamining major breakthroughs in the government's use of "innovative techniques" of regulating.
The Regulatory Council, a group of regulators brought together by Carter, cited 376 initiatives, including ending aspects of trucking regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission and shaping regulations to an institution's size.