Obama's Regulatory Enforcement Shows That Government Can Play a Positive Role
by Matthew Madia, 12/20/2010
In its first two years, the Obama administration stepped up the enforcement of rules meant to protect the environment, workers, and consumers, according to a new OMB Watch report. This activity is a welcome development after years of regulatory negligence that likely played a part in the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history and the most fatal coal mine disaster in 40 years.
According to the report, The Obama Approach to Public Protection: Enforcement, the administration has backed away from the limited-government philosophy that has characterized views on regulation for several decades dating back to when President Ronald Reagan declared that government was a problem, not a solution. Instead, President Obama and administration officials have decided that government can serve the public best by taking proactive strides in the regulatory arena.
Take, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), perhaps the most successful enforcement story thus far in the Obama administration. OSHA is sending more inspectors to the country's most dangerous workplaces and citing employers for safety and health violations with greater frequency.
Critics will look at this news as evidence of error or overreach by the Obama administration. After all, regulation has become a dirty word among Big Business lobbyists, like those from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and their allies in Congress. They tell us that regulation hurts small businesses and makes hiring more difficult.
But it's not the butcher, the baker, or the candlestick maker that government is after – it's the chronic scofflaws that put the public at great risk. As the OMB Watch report discusses, Department of Labor officials said this year that they recognize most businesses are law-abiding but the ones who aren't need to be held accountable.