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New House oversight chairman asks businesses to name onerous government regulations

January 4, 2011 |  8:44 am

Issa Rep. Darrell Issa, the Vista Republican who will head the House's top investigative committee, is following through on his pledge to be more friendly to business, asking companies to tell him which government regulations to target with his new powers.

Issa, the incoming chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform committee, recently sent letters to more than 150 businesses, trade associations and think tanks asking for their help in "identifying existing and proposed regulations that have negatively impacted job growth," according to a copy of one of the letters released Tuesday by his office. He asked for responses by Jan. 10.

"The anti-business policies of the past have hurt job creators, small and large," said Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella. "It’s in the interest of every American that we create a regulatory environment that fosters economic growth and makes U.S. companies globally competitive."

The outreach reflects the more business-friendly approach of the incoming House Republican majority. Issa, who made a fortune running his own car-alarm company before coming to Washington, has been outspoken about reversing what he views as the anti-business attitude of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

He said last summer that he would not use the broad subpoena powers that go with the oversight chairman's gavel to pillory business executives, as he accused Democratic predecessors such as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) of doing.

“I won’t use it to have corporate America live in fear that we’re going to subpoena everything," he said in a speech to Pennsylvania Republicans, according to Politico. "I will use it to get the very information that today the White House is either shredding or not producing.”

It's unclear what Issa will do with the information he gets from businesses beyond shining a light on regulations they say are burdensome. House Republicans can vote to repeal regulations but would need Democratic support to get legislation through the Senate and signed by President Obama. That would appear to limit action to regulations that are truly onerous and not just ones that businesses simply dislike.

In a copy of one of the letters Issa sent to businesses, he said that federal agencies issued 43 major new regulations in the 2010 fiscal year.

"These regulations ranged from new limits on 'effluent' discharges to new rules for Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations," he wrote. "The new limits on 'effluent' discharges from construction sites will cost $810.8 million annually resulting in the closure of 147 construction firms and the loss of 7,257 jobs.

"In total, the administration estimated the cost, often referred to as the hidden tax, of the 43 new regulations to be approximately $28 billion, the highest single year increase in estimated burden on record, resulting in thousands of lost jobs," the letter continued.

Bardella said Issa wants to get "insight from job creators who have felt shut out of the policy process so that we have a better understanding about what regulatory barriers are standing in the way of job creation."

-- Jim Puzzanghera

 Photo: Rep. Darrell Issa. Credit: Associated Press.