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Public Statements

Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 4078, the so-called Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.

This mother of all anti-regulation bills is actually a repackaging of a noxious potpourri of previously introduced bills that would make it virtually impossible for the executive branch and its agencies to protect the American public. This bill would block the issuance of regulations regardless of how vital they are to safeguarding the public's health. They want to eliminate regulations that keep our workers safe and which would rein in the excesses of Wall Street.

Why? So that they can please their crony capitalist brothers, the Koch brothers, and also their crony capitalist friends in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They want to keep them happy.

Instead of creating jobs, the Tea Party Republicans are assaulting the very regulations that ensure that we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink; regulations that protect our children from unsafe products like toys, like clothing and bedding, baby food, regulations that protect seniors from adulterated medicines and unsafe substances that they use.

They essentially want to create so many barriers and obstacles to the promulgation of regulations that it's virtually impossible to do so. They want to keep these Federal agencies from doing their job, which is to protect the health, safety, and well-being of this country.

This isn't red tape reduction, folks. This is a philosophy of putting profits over people. The House is in session for 6 more days prior to our August break. After that, we have maybe about 10 legislative days left before the end of the year. What have we accomplished in this Congress? Bills like this. And we've voted to rescind and repeal ObamaCare over and over again. We're now up to number 34 votes on that.

What do we have pending here? We have the Bush tax cuts, which we all agree that we should keep in place for the middle class; but because we don't agree to extend them for the Koch brothers and the other crony capitalists that this party represents, they're not willing to get that done. They don't want to do the payroll tax cuts, the tax extenders, the AMT patch, unemployment benefits, the doc fix, and sequestration. All of this remains to be wrapped up within the next 10 days or so, plus 6, the next 2 weeks of legislative activity.

So to think that this legislation would be effective in bringing reasonable regulations through this Congress, is absurd.

We should be creating jobs legislatively. We should be helping veterans adjust to civilian life. We should be taking measures to impact the ongoing taking of homes of individuals in foreclosure. There is so much that we should be doing instead of appeasing our crony capitalist friends. So I urge my colleagues to oppose this fundamentally flawed bill.

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Chairman, there is absolutely no way, with the many regulations that need to be promulgated and put into effect, that we would be able to do that here in Congress instead of letting the stakeholders, the business community, and the regulatory agencies work things out. There's no way that we're going to be able to handle that in Congress.

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would amend the bill's definition of ``significant regulatory action'' to exclude any regulation or guidance that is intended to protect the privacy of Americans.

With the increasing opportunities for governmental and private organizations to obtain, maintain, and disseminate sensitive, private information on citizens, it is critical that we not prevent or delay the implementation of government regulations designed to protect the privacy of this information for several reasons.

First, the government routinely collects almost every type of personal information about individuals and stores it in its databases. It may maintain this information for stated periods of time or permanently, and the government may share it with State agencies under certain circumstances.

The concern, Mr. Chairman, is that such information has itself become a commodity with financial value, subject to abuse by those who seek to sell it for financial gain or for criminal purposes, such as identity theft.

Unfortunately, several Federal agencies, such as the Veterans Administration, have lost the personal information of millions of Americans. For example, in 2006, the personal information for more than 26 million veterans and 2.2 million current military servicemembers was stolen from a Department of Veterans Affairs employee's home after he had taken the data home without authorization.

Second, thanks to the largely unfettered use of Social Security numbers and the availability of other personally identifiable information through technological advances, data security breaches appear to be occurring with greater frequency, in government and the private sector. In both of those arenas, we see these data breaches occurring. In turn, identity theft has swiftly evolved into one of the most prolific crimes in the United States. Unregulated, those who have it would seek to sell it and abuse it. And there are businesses which exist for the purpose of collecting as much personal information as possible about individuals so that they can put together profiles that they can then sell.

Finally, the protection of Americans' privacy is not a Democratic or Republican issue. Indeed, it is one of the few that those on opposite ends of the political spectrum have long embraced.

Who can dispute the need to protect the privacy of patients' health information? The Department of Health and Human Services has been tasked by Congress to implement new regulations to give patients more control over their own health records. In addition, HHS is proposing new rules to protect Americans from discrimination based on their genetic information. Yet, H.R. 4078 would stop these regulations from going into effect because the bill has only limited exceptions that would be generally inapplicable to privacy protection regulations.

Likewise, the bill's waiver provisions are generally unworkable. My amendment corrects this shortcoming by including in the bill an exception for regulations that protect the privacy of Americans.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is not designed to pave the way for any specific regulation. It is intended generally to prevent the delay in issuing regulations that will protect the privacy of our citizens. Privacy considerations should be at the forefront of our concerns, not treated as secondary inconvenience. Whether or not a specific issue is one ripe for regulation is properly considered as part of the regulatory process, which carefully considers all interests.

To delay privacy regulations, as this bill would do, is to short-circuit the appropriately careful issuance of regulations needed to keep the personal behavior and personal information of our citizens safe from unwanted surveillance or exploitation.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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