The Heritage Foundation’s Red Tape Rising report released this week documents not only the rising tide of government regulation in President Barack Obama’s first two year’s in office, but also the tsunami of regulation set to crush Americans over his final two years in office. Specifically, fiscal year 2010 federal regulators promulgated 43 major rules estimated, by the regulators themselves, to cost the U.S. economy $28 billion. That is the highest level ever on record.

And that total only includes a few of the 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies required by the financial reform bill and the over 1,000 instances where HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is empowered to regulate the health care industry by Obamacare.

Even before the Obama regulatory tsunami hits, the American people are already tired of government intervention in their lives. As the Gallup chart to the right shows, 49% of Americans say there is too much government regulation compared to only 27% who say their is too little.

Gallup also asked Americans if the government was “fairer and more just” than business. Only 36% of Americans thought government was more fair and just than business. 60% chose business over government.

There are some things that a new Congress can do to stop the rising tide of red tape:

  • Establish a Sunset Date for New Federal Regulations. To prevent outdated regulations from being left in place in perpetuity, new regulations should, as a matter of routine, include a “sunset” date by which they would expire automatically unless specifically renewed by lawmakers. Such automatic sunset clauses already exist in some cases. Congress should make them the rule, and not the exception.
  • Protect the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Over the past 30 years, OIRA has played a key role in Republican and Democratic Administrations, scrutinizing proposed new regulations, checking their effectiveness and cost, and providing an outside check on agencies’ regulatory agendas. This institutional role is a vital one and should be preserved. Congress and the Administration should reject attempts to reduce OIRA’s role or authority.
  • Repeal New Health Care and Financial Services Regulations. The regulatory regimes placed in President Obama’s health care reform and financial regulation bills were a step backward for consumers and the economy, and imposed unnecessary regulatory costs or taxes on American businesses and families. Congress should repeal both and adopt market-based solutions in their stead.