Obama's regulatory push giving vulnerable Dems headaches

A slew of major regulations that will be finalized in the next few months will be boon to GOP candidates running in the mid terms.

Some of those rules are already impacting races, according to The Hill:

Groups that closely follow regulations are expecting the Obama administration to continue issuing controversial rules through the midterm elections, despite the political risk it could pose for Democrats.

With time running out on President Obama’s second term, federal agencies are hitting the gas on a number of regulatory initiatives that are central to the White House’s “go-it-alone” agenda.

The pace of rulemaking is a stark contrast from the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, when the flow of rules came screeching to a near halt.

The expectation that the gears of the regulatory process will keep moving highlights how the president's desire for a second-term legacy sometimes conflicts with the short-term political considerations of congressional Democrats.

“We can’t underestimate the role politics plays in regulatory decisions,” said Stuart Shapiro, a former staffer at the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, who is now an associate professor at Rutgers University. “It’s important to remember that at the heart of regulations are political decisions.” 

Obama’s regulatory push is having a notable impact on Kentucky’s Senate race, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is using the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial climate rule against his opponent Alison Grimes, a Democrat. 

Critics say Kentuckians stand to lose thousands of coal jobs under the EPA’s climate rule, making it very unpopular in the state. McConnell has promised to fight back against the EPA’s climate rule, and has not been shy about pointing out Grimes’ Democratic ties to President Obama.

But Obama isn’t “backing away” from the EPA’s climate rule, said Ronald White, regulatory policy director at the left-leaning Center for Effective Government — or for that matter, from the EPA’s waters rule, which is just as controversial.

The EPA says the water regulation is needed to clarify ambiguity in the law, while critics say it would give federal regulators expansive powers over the small bodies of water such as those found on many farms.

“Obviously, there are still some sensitivities, but if President Obama were really worried about negatively influencing the midterm elections, would he have been this aggressive on climate? Would he have been as supportive on the waters rule?” White asked. “I suspect not.”

In 2012 when his own hide was on the line, Obama delayed issuing controversial regulations in order to prevent Republicans from using them as political issues. But since he's not running for anything this year, the president feels no compunction about letting Democrats absorb the punishment that will come from the War on Coal and other high profile rules.

We can expect that the next two years will see a radical expansion of government powers to control a vast number of industries. And the scary part is, even after he leaves office, the people responsible for writing these regulations will still be in government to oversee this expansion.

Obama's legacy is already being written by the bureaucrats.

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