When deficits are high, Congress has even more incentive than usual to indulge in unfunded mandates. That way it can deliver the spending programs and other government goodies that voters like, and without adding to the deficit. Of course, this is because states and the private sector bear the burden instead.
Congress passed an Unfunded Mandate Reform Act back in 1995, but it is mostly toothless, and needs to be strengthened. Fortunately, help may be on the way, as Wayne Crews and I explain in today’s Washington Times:
During the last week of July and just before August recess, the House is likely to vote on H.R. 4078, a package of reforms called the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012.
Title IV of the package is H.R. 373, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2011, a bipartisan bill long championed by Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican. It would close some of UMRA’s loopholes. The biggest fix is that it would force independent agencies to comply with UMRA.
Another reform is that the Office of Management and Budget would no longer review the rules. That task would move to OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which specializes, albeit imperfectly, in cost estimates. That office likely is better suited to the job, given a long history of being tasked with regulatory review responsibility, but it doesn’t have much veto power.