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.
Sen. Richard 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.”