Today, President Barack Obama visits Baton Rouge to continue his State of the Union tour and discuss his agenda for the last year of his term. As we saw Tuesday night, the president will claim economic progress under his administration, despite the fact that unemployment in Louisiana and so many other states continues trending upward.
We should pay close attention to how the president proposes to achieve his agenda. According to POLITICO, nearly 4,000 proposed regulations are making their way through the federal bureaucracy as the White House tries to push through the president’s priorities before his term ends. Given his comments and track record, Louisianians should prepare for a deluge of more job-killing regulations in 2016. The scope of these regulations will be sweeping, and the impact on hard-working taxpayers will be severe.
One example is President Obama’s recent attempt to undermine the Second Amendment. Rather than upholding our constitutionally protected rights, the president is once again attempting to circumvent Congress via regulation to achieve his gun control agenda. We will not let that happen.
President Obama should start prosecuting more criminals who violate existing gun laws rather than trying to take away the rights of law-abiding Americans. The president can be assured that the people of Louisiana have noticed this. I am hopeful the president will also take note during his visit and listen to the concerns people have and that I hear daily.
With oil and natural gas prices at their lowest in decades, Louisiana’s economy is hurting, and companies are making tough decisions about where to invest. Making matters worse is the regulatory onslaught the oil and gas industries are facing. Whether it is the Environmental Protection Agency’s unrealistic change in air standards or the Department of Interior’s latest proposal to regulate offshore drilling, each rule creates regulatory uncertainty, making it harder for businesses to invest in our state and hire Louisiana workers.
These regulations have real world impacts. If a company is looking to drill offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and its regulatory requirements are unclear or unattainable, that uncertainty drives up costs and causes those investments — and jobs — to go elsewhere.
Unfortunately, regulatory uncertainty is not limited to the energy sector. The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have finalized new regulations to redefine “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) without being given this authority by Congress. These radical rules will increase the federal government’s authority to regulate virtually all waters, including streams, ditches and puddles, even on private land.
Louisiana property owners do not need unelected bureaucrats in Washington telling them how to use or develop their land. If the Corps and the EPA drive up costs for farmers, Louisiana families will end up paying more at the grocery store. If compliance costs go up for Louisiana’s small businesses, they will have fewer opportunities to innovate or hire new employees.
These types of regulations are why the Republican Congress is working on behalf of the American people and why I will continue fighting against President Obama’s executive overreach. Just this week, the House passed legislation to overturn the WOTUS rule. This is one of many steps in our efforts to hold the president accountable and protect Louisiana taxpayers.
I am glad the president is visiting because he will see how his administration’s policies are hurting the people of Louisiana. I trust the president will remember his visit when considering his final year agenda, and I hope he will decide to roll back his job-killing regulations and work with Congress to create jobs and restore our economy. Louisiana would be better served by that common-sense approach.
Steve Scalise, the majority whip, represents Louisiana’s 1st District in Congress. This piece originally appeared at the Baton Rouge Advocate.