Today, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the infrastructure investment portion of President Obama’s American Jobs Act. Senate Republicans are planning to block the bill, objecting to the fact that it is paid for by a surtax that affects no more than the richest 0.1 percent of people in most states.
The Senate GOP, instead, is offering its own “jobs bill.” The GOP’s legislation, in addition to providing some highway funding, would cut $40 billion in discretionary spending and implement a cockamamie House Republican proposal known as the REINS Act. As ThinkProgress Justice editor Ian Millhiser wrote, the REINS Act would cripple the government’s ability to regulate just about anything:
House Republicans claim that REINS will simply provide an additional layer of congressional oversight before a federal agency can improve vehicle safety standards or reduce greenhouse emissions or streamline the FDA’s process for approving new drugs, but the actual effect of REINS would be to completely freeze much of the federal regulatory structure in place — permanently.
For one thing, while REINS’ chief sponsor claims that it would prevent new regulations from being filibustered in the Senate, the bill does not account for a loophole in the Senate rules. As a result, all but the most insignificant new federal regulations would be shut down completely unless they could somehow earn supermajority support in the Senate.
While the GOP seems to be aiming this plan at preventing new regulations, it would also effectively make it impossible to get rid of old regulations. Sally Katzen, a former chief overseer of the federal regulatory process, pointed out that “agencies sometimes propose eliminating outdated rules. But even these efforts at regulatory streamlining would nonetheless get caught in the REINS Act net, as deregulatory rules are nevertheless still rules.”
Former Reagan administration economist Bruce Bartlett explained this week that the GOP’s belief in deregulation as a job creation measure is “nonsense.” “It’s just made up,” he said. McClatchy spoke with small business owners, and found “little evidence” that regulation is hurting job creation. So instead of passing the infrastructure bill and putting Americans back to work on projects vital to the country, the GOP is proposing a nonsense solution to a non-existent problem.