In an effort to ease President Obama's
reelection bid, the White House delayed the imposition of a series of
regulations affecting Obamacare and environmental protection ahead of the 2012
election, according to a new report in the Washington Post.
While the administration has said its
approach to regulatory review is consistent with that of previous
administrations, several former administration officials told the Post that the
delays were longer under Mr. Obama than his predecessors, and that the motive behind
them was clearly political.
The regulations in question governed
some of the most politically sensitive aspects of the president's agenda. One
determined which Americans would qualify for subsidized health insurance under
Obamacare's federal and state exchanges. Another defined the minimum coverage
standards that insurance plans must meet under the new law.
Several environmental regulations were
also delayed, including a rule requiring cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution
vehicles that critics in the oil industry warned would increase the cost of
gasoline. That rule was ready in December 2011 but was only issued in March
2013. Other regulations delayed until after the election dealt with coal ash
disposal and emissions caps on existing power plants, according to the Post.
A spokeswoman for the Office of
Management and Budget, which reviews new regulations, told the Post that the
agency "works as expeditiously as possible to review rules, but when it comes
to complex rules with significant potential impact, we take the time needed to
get them right."
But critics are bound to see political
motives behind the delays, and it seems Congress is already gearing up for a
fresh series of hearings.
Blumenthal, D-Conn., the chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight,
Federal Rights and Agency Action, told the Post he's concerned about the
tangible effects of the delayed regulations.
"Legal protection delayed is protection denied," he said. "I've
spoken to officials at the top rungs of the White House power structure and at
OIRA and we're going to hold their feet to the fire, and we're going to make
sure they're held accountable in a series of hearings."