Boehner’s deregulation agenda

BOEHNER’S DEREGULATION AGENDA…. It’s been challenging to keep up with Republican jaw-droppers of late. A leading GOP lawmaker is apologizing to BP? Well, that’ll be tough to top. The would-be Speaker is dismissing the importance of the financial crisis? Wow. The entire party believes the nation can’t afford unemployment benefits, but can afford $678 billion in tax cuts for the rich? That seems tough to spin.

But yesterday’s remarks from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) deserve a place on the growing list. Boehner organized a Washington event yesterday with business lobbyists, encouraging them to help shape the still-non-existent Republican policy agenda. The lobbyists decried consumer protection and workplace safety regulations, and like a puppet whose strings had been pulled, Boehner rushed to a microphone to declare:

“I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea it sends a wonderful signal to the private sector that they’re going to have some breathing room.”

To be clear, Boehner hasn’t been saying this all along. He only adopted this remarkable position because lobbyists, in effect, told him to. It’s Boehner’s brand of leadership in a nutshell — elect him Speaker, so he can serve as the mindless, toadying middleman between corporate interests and the policymaking process.

Even for Boehner, this is pretty crazy. David Kurtz suggested it’s the “dumbest idea of the year.”

…Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today is publicly proposing a moratorium on any new regulations by the federal government for one year. Yeah, that’s right. The promulgation of any new government regulation would be stopped for a year, except emergencies like the BP spill.

Presumably this would halt all the new regs being written to implement health care reform, the ones that will soon be written to implement financial reform, and of course the gazillions or more obscure regulations that are written every day as part of the essential functioning of government.

With everything going on right now, the second highest ranking Republican in Washington wants to basically shut government down for a year. Brilliant.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but federal regulations are a driving force of what the government does. Hundreds of agencies are responsible with crafting regulations every day for everything from veterans’ care to law enforcement to immigration to food safety. Boehner’s willingness to impose a flat ban is just plain nuts.

The office of the actual Speaker took a few minutes to review some pending regulations, and noticed that Boehner’s plan would shut down proposed safety standards for baby cribs, greater transparency for government contracting, and expanded consumer protections for air travelers.

As a rule, these are the kinds of regulations voters tend to like — and rely on.

For context, I should note that Boehner’s deregulation agenda, while bizarre, isn’t entirely new. A nearly identical plan was pushed 15 years ago … by disgraced former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who shaped his plan after a meeting with business lobbyists, soon after the GOP had won its House majority. DeLay, at the time, said a moratorium on regulations would give officials “breathing room.”

Sound familiar?

The Republican agenda of the 21st century — start with a base of Bush/Cheney, throw in a heaping tablespoon of Tom DeLay, and add just a pinch of the John Birch Society. Heat to a boiling point and serve.