Time to Double Down on Regulatory Modernization
Try as I might, I don’t always succeed in breaking out of the Washington echo chamber. I recently met with one of ABA’s most actively engaged and supportive members and their senior management team. They asked me to provide a market and Washington update.
I, like many in Washington, have been feeling pretty good about the recently enacted tax bill, significant rollback of federal regulations and the resulting economic uptick. I highlighted those developments during my update, while cautioning that despite these changes, it meant that any fiscal discipline had fallen by the wayside.
The owner of the company politely interrupted me and asked an important question that made me stop in my tracks. He was appreciative of the tax bill and the regulatory rollback but stated that most of the regulatory relief was blocking or rolling back the massive regulatory agenda of the previous administration – in other words, all the regulations that had just recently been approved or were on the path to approval under President Obama. He emphatically stated that the regulatory overreach in the health care, environmental and workforce areas were still in place from before the previous administration.
The Trump Administration has touted its regulatory reform initiatives, including the executive order requiring two regulations to be repealed for every new regulation. Congress, to its credit, has successfully used the Congressional Review Act to eliminate over a dozen major regulations, including onerous regulations such as the joint employer, federal contractor blacklisting and environmental permitting regulations. All these actions are to address the previous administration’s agenda and nothing to do with the underlying regulatory infrastructure.
As ABA’s research in developing its new Strategic Plan shows, the federal regulatory requirements are a significant drag on investment in employees, new product developments and more efficient operations. In many places, probably no more acutely than in the workforce area, bakers are trying to manage a 2018 business in a 1940’s regulatory environment.
Equally frustrating, even with a so-called “friendly” administration bent on regulatory reform, is the glacial pace of regulatory modernization for positive regulatory reforms at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In fact, FDA’s recently announced Nutrition Innovation Strategy, an attempt to modernize food nutrition policy looks remarkably like the highly controversial and confusing food policy of the previous administration. Meanwhile, the EPA’s attempts to expand the scope of key environmental regulations, despite science and common sense, is mind boggling.
Regardless of the results of the mid-term Congressional election, ABA is poised to double down on its pressure on the Trump Administration to modernize the federal regulatory system. ABA’s policy Committees, guided by science, cost-benefit analysis and common sense will be helping ABA pursue meaningful and lasting regulatory reform. We urge the entire baking industry to fully engage on reducing the regulatory overreach impacting the industry.