VINEYARD HAVEN, Massachusetts (Reuters) - The White House said on Tuesday that federal regulatory cuts would save Washington more than $10 billion over five years, but business groups warned that companies could face more costs from new rules in the pipeline.
Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said the reforms identified across a range of agencies would reduce red tape for hospitals, small businesses, farmers, exporters and tax preparers.
“We do see this as helpful to job creation,” Sunstein told reporters on a conference call describing more than 500 cuts and reforms he said would save the government money, reduce waste “and thus strengthen our economy.”
The government says trimming its regulations would save it time and enforcement costs, and allow it to use its resources in a smarter way. Businesses could also see some cost-savings, it says.
President Barack Obama had ordered the regulatory cutbacks -- spanning environmental policy to the military -- as a way to bolster the struggling U.S. economy and ensure the government was spending its time and money wisely.
His rival Republicans said the final list of measures, unveiled during the Democratic president’s summer vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, was “underwhelming.”
The Chamber of Commerce and other business groups were quick to point out the Obama administration was also pushing for potentially costly measures related to the ozone layer, air quality, injury prevention and other areas that could quickly undercut the savings announced on Tuesday.
“There are literally dozens of costly regulations that we have real concerns about,” said Rosario Palmieri, vice president for regulatory affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers.
He said the point of paring down regulations was important both to eliminate old, pointless rules and to reduce burdens on businesses.
“The cumulative effects of regulation weigh on the economy and create impediments to job creation,” he said. In the current scenario, he said “the proposed rules are often more costly than the reforms that they are attempting.”
Bill Kovacs of the Chamber of Commerce also said any new regulatory measures needed to be carefully calibrated so they have the least costs and least impact on businesses.
“The results of this lookback will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today,” Kovacs said.