EDITORIAL: Obama regulatory agenda quietly belts economy on holiday weekend

Do you remember when the Obama administration released its spring regulatory agenda right before Memorial Day? You don’t? Why not? Were you out of town or getting ready for a cookout or something?

Did you hear about the White House’s regulatory agenda for fall 2014? What? You didn’t hear about that one, either? That’s strange. It was released on the eve of Thanksgiving. Perhaps you were you traveling or spending time with family.

Since you missed it, we’ll fill you in. The new package — the highest-priority rules for federal agencies in the coming year — is bigger than the previous agenda and contains 3,415 regulations, including 189 new rules that will cost the economy more than $100 million apiece. Its rollout marks the fifth time the Obama administration has released new regulations on the eve of a major holiday.

Cost-hiking, job-killing rules are announced when the country is tuned out because the media inevitably move on to other stories by the end of a holiday weekend. The timing of such “news dumps” is an admission that their content won’t be popular with the public.

The fall agenda includes a Consumer Product Safety Commission plan to adopt flammability standards for upholstered furniture; the Environmental Protection Agency’s overreaching new definition of the “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act; and new standards from the Food and Drug Administration that affect the sale and distribution of tobacco products.

The costliest regulation, however, is the EPA’s long-planned ozone restrictions. Environmentalists and public health professionals tout the regulation’s positive impact on air quality, but it will actually do more harm than good. American air quality already is improving under existing regulations, but the new rules will force the owners of power plants and factories to install expensive technologies that will drive up electricity prices, kill jobs and, ultimately, deal a fatal blow to the coal industry.

The EPA planned to release the new ozone rules in August 2011, but President Barack Obama, worried about his re-election chances, delayed it, saying the regulation would place an unfair burden on industry and local governments during tough economic times. Now, with the president safely re-elected, we are supposed to believe the same regulation would not create the same economic burden?

The Obama administration claims to be champions of working families and the middle class, but the regulations on ozone levels, in particular — and almost all of its regulations, in general — are job killers. How, exactly, does killing jobs help the middle class?

This latest round of rulemaking underscores the incredible, growing reach of the Washington bureaucracy, which has become the fourth branch of government — with no accountability to voters. If these new rules appeared on a ballot, guess how they’d do? They’d lose in a landslide. November’s elections, which gave Republicans control of the Senate and expanded the GOP majority in the House, were a referendum on President Obama’s governance.

Federal overreach like this proves, once again, that our government is too big, too powerful and too expensive. It’s no wonder they don’t want us knowing what they’re up to.