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A lot of people are suffering right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Some because of the illness itself. Others because of the economic hardship caused by the shutdown.
We can and should continue working together to destroy the “silent enemy,” as the president has called it. But as we discuss plans for the next phase of American life, however, I hope policymakers will remember the burden of red tape on working people across the country.
Before the coronavirus threatened to overwhelm our health care systems, physicians weren’t allowed to practice medicine across state lines. Hospitals in some states had to receive permission from the state government to add more beds. Puerto Rico, D.C., and other U.S. territories were not allowed to purchase personal protective equipment from foreign suppliers.
Those rules and regulations, however, were rolled back as part of the mobilization against the pandemic and the value of those rollbacks is indisputable. They should be made permanent. But that is simply a first step.
As the economy is reopened, Congress and President Trump must cut red tape throughout the economy in order to make it easier for employers to restore jobs, create jobs, and deliver essential goods and services to the American people.
Extending the rollback of red tape to cover the reopening of the economy will help ensure a quicker economic recovery that isn’t delayed by bureaucratic obstacles.
Getting Americans back to work supersedes filling out paperwork and jumping through government hoops.
Just as the Trump administration’s initial rollback of regulations before the pandemic helped spur a 3 percent economic growth rate, another round of major reform of federal regulation will be key to reigniting our economy.
To kick-start recovery throughout the economy, the federal government must do three things:
First, immediately use existing authority to simplify regulations, including waiving fines and penalties when the business has made a good-faith effort to comply.
Second, Congress should grant President Trump the authority to suspend regulations. Removing red tape will both allow healthcare workers to fight the coronavirus more effectively and businesses to more easily reopen and rehire employees.
Third, simplified and reduced regulations should be made permanent to create certainty and incentivize more investment as the economy reopens.
The good news for President Trump is that voters overwhelmingly—by a 2-to-1 margin in a recent poll that the Club for Growth conducted among all voters —want Congress to give the President the authority to cut red tape for businesses to boost the economy after it is reopened.
President Trump should also fight for changes replacing the sometimes years-long environmental review and approval process for manufacturing and infrastructure projects with a streamlined review period.
By shortening the approval process, the billions that Congress has already appropriated for these projects can start to be spent immediately, thus increasing stimulus without adding to the debt.
In the private sector, businesses would be incentivized to invest in big projects, hire workers, and energize local communities without the threat of an out-of-touch bureaucracy upending those plans.
In the health care area, there remain many more burdensome policies that need to be eliminated during this crisis and never come back once the pandemic is over.
For example, many doctors aren’t allowed to practice telemedicine because they don’t meet redundant regulatory requirements. In a highly contagious pandemic, doctors should be able to practice remotely if they think it is the safest option for them and their patients.
FDA approval of a new vaccine to fight the coronavirus is being dramatically accelerated. That streamlined process should become the norm for all new drugs, biologics, and antiseptics.
Similarly, the overly burdensome and intrusive manufacturing regulations that FDA implemented in 2012 should be scaled back so American drug companies can afford to return production of these drug to the US rather have to outsource them to places like China.
Thankfully, President Trump and his advisory board are formulating recovery plans that include cutting red tape and removing barriers to innovation.
Restoring jobs and restarting the world’s greatest economy will require no less.
David McIntosh is the president of Club for Growth the nation’s leading group promoting economic freedom through legislative involvement, issue advocacy, research, and education. He led regulatory relief efforts during the 1st Bush Administration. He is also a former Congressman from Indiana and cofounder of the Federalist Society.