By Andy Barr
These are difficult times for the American people. The unemployment rate continues to exceed 9 percent. Over 14 million Americans remain unemployed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now 1.7 million fewer jobs in America than existed when Congress passed President Barack Obama's trillion-dollar stimulus.
Years of reckless overspending have produced the first-ever downgrade in the nation's credit rating. Just a few weeks ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 6.4 percent, suffering its worst five-day sell-off since October 2008.
In short, the Obama agenda of massive spending, bigger government and huge debt hasn't worked. In fact, it's making the economy worse. So it was hardly surprising to read Congressman Ben Chandler's recent commentary in which he feverishly attempted to distance himself from the president's failed economic agenda.
Citing an absurd regulation requiring banks to change their disclosure statements using solid lines rather than asterisks, my opponent in next year's congressional race declared, "Folks, it is time to cut the fat."
The challenge for Chandler is that he's part of the problem. He has voted continuously to increase the fat by supporting failed policies. He voted for the trillion-dollar stimulus — the same stimulus that guaranteed $535 million of tax dollars to the now-bankrupt Solyndra, a firm making solar panels.
He voted for cap-and-trade legislation that would create a vast Soviet-style bureaucracy, doubling energy prices and costing Kentuckians over 35,000 jobs. He voted to save "Obamacare," which creates 159 new federal boards and commissions, authorizes the hiring of 16,000 new IRS agents, auditors and employees, and will put bureaucrats between you and your doctor.
In a half-hearted epiphany, Chandler now concedes that some regulations may be "a bit excessive," hedging that "many regulations are ones we need," and "regulations can serve a good purpose."
But how many Americans who have lost their jobs would say that these regulations "serve a good purpose"?
Since January 2009, the Obama administration has imposed at least 75 new major regulations with reported costs to the private sector exceeding $40 billion. The number of federal bureaucrats employed by regulatory agencies has increased 13 percent. And this torrent of red tape is expected to continue, as hundreds of new financial, health care and environmental regulations advance through the regulatory pipeline. Of those, more than 200 regulations are considered "economically significant," or rules having at least $100 million in economic impact.
No other president has burdened businesses and entrepreneurs with a higher number and larger cost of regulations in a shorter period of time.
If Chandler actually meant what he said, he would actively oppose the president's regulatory agenda. Instead, he voted against legislation in July that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency's assault on Kentucky coal jobs and would have prohibited arbitrary federal interference with state-approved permits and water-quality standards.
Chandler even voted against a bill that would have prohibited the National Labor Relations Board from punishing Boeing's efforts to open a new assembly plant and create 1,000 new jobs in South Carolina.
In contrast, I support an agenda of real regulatory reform. When elected, I will:
■ Challenge the administration's appointment of unaccountable "czars" as principal officers of the executive branch without Senate confirmation;
■ Co-sponsor Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis' Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require congressional approval before any new major regulation takes effect.
■ Introduce legislation to establish a sunset date for all federal regulations, requiring rules to automatically expire if not specifically reaffirmed by the agency through notice-and-comment rule making.
Despite his incessant double-talk, Chandler continues to vote for Obama's job-killing agenda and against private sector job growth.
As the next congressman from Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District, I'll do more than just talk about reigning in burdensome regulations. I'll actually do it.