WASHINGTON-A government official and a representative of industry faced off on the Republican regulatory reform effort at the 1995 Society of Automotive Engineers Government/Industry Meeting in Washington April 10-12. A political commentator, meanwhile, said the sweeping GOP ``mandate'' of the 1994 election could actually rebound to President Clinton's favor in the 1996 presidential election.
``Regulations clearly played an important role'' in creating the safer, cleaner vehicles of today, said Henry Kelly, assistant director for technology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Because the regulatory process has been too antagonistic, the Clinton administration is committed to reforming that process, according to Mr. Kelly.
The administration is taking steps to change formal rulemaking procedures to ``negotiations based on mutual consent,'' he said.
It also will conduct a page-by-page review of all existing regulations, with an eye toward eliminating outdated or ineffective ones.
But there is no need for the House-passed regulatory moratorium or other GOP regulatory reform bills, Mr. Kelly said.
``We can not support a draconian moratorium on regulations that blocks our ability to enact measures crucial to the nation's health and safety,'' he said. ``We are making extensive use of risk analysis, but can't support approaches that plunge us into dizzying mazes of analysis and litigation.''
But Michael Baroody of the National Association of Manufacturers praised the GOP initiatives as right and necessary.
``Manufacturers feel the government might replicate the revolution we've seen going on in manufacturing,'' Mr. Baroody said. ``There is a widespread sense that government regulation costs too much, achieves too little and intrudes daily in the workplace, home and school.''
The Clinton administration's effort toward regulatory reform is commendable, according to Mr. Baroody, ``but it's one of many blueprints (for reform) stretching back to Nixon,'' he said. ``We want to see sound science and risk assessment encoded in law.*.*.*.*We'd be delighted to participate in solving problems if only we could participate in defining those problems.''
The U.S. has a Republican Congress and Democratic president for the first time since Harry Truman's first term, said Norman Ornstein of the Washington, D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute.
``This is creating a lot of interesting cross-currents,'' Mr. Ornstein said. ``The Republicans want to implement their policies, but if the American people get happier with Washington, they'll get happier with Clinton too. The popularity of Congress and President Clinton is going up in almost a one-to-one correlation.''
On the other hand, House Speaker Newt Gingrich has quickly set himself up as an alternate source of power in the federal government, Mr. Ornstein said.