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Obama administration cuts red-tape to save billions

A scenic view of a railroad yard photographed from an airplane in New York City.

Stacey Vanek Smith: The White House is set to release plans today to cut hundreds of regulations for companies. It's part of an effort to appear more business-friendly, and could help save firms billions of dollars.

Here to talk about this with us is our very own Nancy Marshall Genzer. She joins us live from Washington, DC. Good morning, Nancy!

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Hey Stacey.

Smith: So Nancy, what are some of the regulations that are getting cut?

Marshall-Genzer: Well, there's one rule that requires gas stations to install valves on pumps to keep gas vapors from escaping when you fill up. Now, that's redundant because there's already technology on cars that does exactly the same thing. The Environmental Protection Agency is allowing more paperwork to be filed electronically. The Department of Homeland Security is going to expedite clearance of low-risk travelers through security at airports. And the Transportation Department will only apply certain railroad safety rules were they're actually needed -- imagine that. The White House says the new railroad policy alone will save up to $340 million.

Smith: Nancy, presidents have done streamlining types things before, right?

Marshall-Genzer: Oh yes, we've heard this idea over and over and over, Stacey. Just about every president since Jimmy Carter has proposed eliminating red tape. Al Gore promised to "re-invent" government when he was vice president. This latest effort began with an executive order from President Obama in January.

Now, Stacey, I spoke with Paul Light about this. He's a professor of public service at NYU. And he says the Obama administration is just nibbling around the edges, making small changes.

Paul Light: They don't have much of an impact. It's the big ticket items, whether it's full scale government reorganization to make agencies work better -- those are big ticket items and difficult to do and nearly impossible to do through executive order.

Smith: The Obama administration is saying regulatory streamlining will encourage hiring -- will encourage businesses to hire. Will it?

Marshall-Genzer: Well, Stacey, it's hard to say because there are a lot of reasons companies aren't creating jobs right now. Some business groups say the real problem here is regulations from new laws like the healthcare and financial reform laws. The National Association of Manufacturers says the new regulations are more of a -- in their words -- threat, to job creation.

Smith: Nancy Marshall Genzer, thank you!

Marshall-Genzer: You're welcome.

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I grew up in Delaware so it's quite painful to learn that the state's flagship university teaches voodoo economics.

Not only did Prof. Charles Ellson spout counterfactual nonsense that the Obama administration imposes heavy regulation — it doesn't, it's policies are very close to to those of the G.W. Bush administration — he then went on to tell us to believe in the confidence fairy.

If Prof. Ellson's is the kind of nonfactual and superstitious claptrap that is being taught in the Economics Department, one wonders if the U. of D. has a Department of Alchemy teaching how to convert lead into gold and an Astrology Department teaching how to plan for the future by casting charts of the planets and stars.

As a Delawarean, I am mortified.

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