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WSJ: Where's the Transparency, Mr. President?
By Kim Strassel
November 2, 2012

Posted by Matt Dempsey

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Wall Street Journal

Where's the Transparency, Mr. President?


Link To Column

One of the mores striking aspects of this presidential campaign is how little President Obama is saying on the stump about his plans for a second-term agenda. So keen is the president to keep his ideas from leaking to the public, that his administration is now trying to hide its regulatory agenda.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe has spent the past week noting that the Obama administration as of today will be missing a statutory deadline on regulatory transparency. The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires federal agencies to publish in the Federal Register descriptions of economically significant regulations they expect to propose. These agendas are required to be published on a semi-annual basis, in both April and October. The Obama administration has now failed to meet this legal requirement since the fall of 2011.

That is no doubt because to comply with this law, the Obama administration would have to confess to its plans to continue with more than a dozen wildly unpopular and hugely expensive environmental regulations. As the election has heated up over the past year, the Environmental Protection Agency has quietly "delayed" or put aside many of these rules, to keep the president from catching heat. As Sen. Inhofe detailed in a recent report, titled "A Look Ahead to EPA Regulations for 2013," they include the agency's greenhouse gas regulations, its crushing ozone rule, a drastic rewrite of the Clean Water Act, and punitive new restrictions on everything from storm water systems, to sulfur in gasoline, to coal ash, to emissions from industrial boilers.

Were the administration to have published in April or October of this year its intention to push through with these regulations, it would severely undercut Mr. Obama's newfound claim that he is in favor of more fossil-fuel development. It would also give Mitt Romney even more ammunition for his charge that this president has instituted more economy crushing regulations than any in modern history. And so the Obama administration has simply ignored the law.

This disregard has become a bit of habit with this administration, as it seeks to down play any details or news that might get in the way of its campaign narrative. Earlier this fall it directed Defense contractors to ignore federal law that requires them to send out layoff notices that will result from the upcoming Defense sequester cuts. Similarly, the administration failed to comply with congressional deadlines to supply information about how those sequester cuts would be implemented. Because the deadline fell on the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte-and would have rained on the president's headlines-the administration simply failed to turn the report in until a week later.

There are some numbers Mr. Obama can't hide from, like this Friday's jobs data. But when it comes to his own plans for regulating the country, the president who pledged to be the most transparent in history would prefer to keep voters in the dark.



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