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President: FCC, FTC Others Should Publish Reg Review Plans Within 120 Days

Looks like the FCC was reading President Obama's mind last week.

The President on Monday issued an executive order ( to independent regulatory agencies saying they should, "to the extent permitted by law," comply with his January 18, 2011 Executive Order that regulations should be reviewed according to a qualitative and quantitative cost-benefit analysis of their impact on jobs and the economy, including publishing a plan of action.

Independent agencies were not subject to the letter of the original order, which required executive agencies to submit a plan to the Office of Management and Budget, but Cass Sunstein, who was overseeing the collection of that info, had urged independent agencies like the FCC and Federal Trade Commission to comply to the extent they could. The president Monday made that official and followed some complaints from House Republicans that independent agencies were not complying with the order.

"Within 120 days of the date of this order, each independent regulatory agency should develop and release to the public a plan, consistent with law and reflecting its resources and regulatory priorities and processes, under which the agency will periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency's regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives," said the president.

But in anticipation of a regulatory reform hearing in the House Oversight Subcommittee last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had already said that not only was the FCC honoring the spirit of the president's executive order on regulatory review, issued last January, but that the FCC would release to the public its regulatory review plan, which is already in progress. "We expect soon to release an FCC plan for continuing these retrospective reviews of agency rules," he said in that statement.

In response to the new executive order, Genachowski said in yet another statement: "I welcome the President's Executive Order today. Since my first day as Chairman, I have made regulatory reform a top priority, improving FCC processes and decisions to support innovation, economic growth, and America's global competitiveness. The results have been strong, with robust and growing private investment and innovation throughout the broadband economy."

Genachowski reiterated that following the initial order, he had directed the commission to follow the "spirit" of the order. Neither the FCC nor FTC would agree to submit official plans to OMB, as some Republicans had pushed for, saying that they were independent agencies. But the announcement last week that the FCC would publish a plan was a new wrinkle.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL), two of the Republicans pushing for independent agencies to be held to the original order's reg review mandate, were pleased with the Presidents' follow-up, characterizing it as a recognition that independent agencies are behind some job-hurting regs.

"Last week's disappointing jobs report underscores the urgent need to fight the bureaucratic red tape that is smothering the nation's job creators. Today's action is a welcome acknowledgement by the president that independent agencies like the FCC, FERC, and CPSC are indeed responsible for regulations that are harming our economic growth and sending jobs overseas," they said. "Jobs remain our top priority, and we cannot afford to have any federal agency engaging in a regulatory assault on growth and innovation."