Title: 03-16-95 President on Regulatory Reform

Author: Office of the Press Secretary

Date: March 16, 1995



Office of the Press Secretary


March 16, 1995



Custom Print

Arlington, Virginia

10:47 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Stu, and, ladies

and gentlemen, thank you. Let me first of all say

how delighted I am to be in this wonderful place.

Among other things, they do their printing here with

soy ink, and that's really why we're here -- because

I come from Arkansas, and my -- (laughter) -- my

farmer friends grow a lot of soybeans, and we're

always looking for new markets, and we're just

trying to support responsible people who are using

great ink.

This is a wonderful story today, and I thank

all of these people for hosting us -- Stu and all of

his partners behind us -- to make a point that, to

me, is very, very important. You heard the Vice

President say that last month I called together the

heads of the federal regulatory agencies, and told

them to begin a root and branch examination of how

we regulate the American people in all the various

ways that we do.

I wanted to make this the next big part of the

Reinventing Government process the Vice President

has overseen so well for the last two years. And

today, we want to announce the fruits of that

process. But it's important to remember what the

purpose is. Most Americans are honest people. The

free enterprise system brings us great benefits.

But we know we have certain things in common that we

have to pursue through the government that we all

are responsible for.

The question is: How can we do it best?

Today, we're announcing basically two sets of

changes. First of all, some government-wide

regulatory reforms that will cut back on paperwork

and trust honest business people as partners, not

adversaries. And, second, significant reforms in

the way we protect the environment and the way we

assure safe and high-quality drugs and medical


The philosophy that guided these changes is

pretty simple: Protect people, not bureaucracy;

promote results, not rules; get action, not

rhetoric. Wherever possible, try to embrace common

sense. It will confound your enemies and elate your

friends. (Laughter.)

Since I became President, I have worked hard

on this. You know, I spent 12 years as a governor

of a state where I got to deal with the regulatory

apparatus of the federal government as it related to

both state government and to every friend I had in

every walk of life in my state. And I found that in

the environmental area, for example, we often had

both the environmentalists and the people who were

in business both frustrated by some things that were

going on, and I could give you lots of other

examples, and all of you can, as well, from your own

personal experience.

Our goal is to get rid of yesterday's

government so that we're capable of meeting the

problems of today and the challenges of tomorrow.

We want a government that offers opportunity,

demands responsibility, and shrinks bureaucracy, one

that embodies the New Covenant I've been talking

about -- more opportunity and more responsibility

with a less bureaucratic government. I think

government can be as innovative as the best of our

private sector businesses. I think government can

discard volume after volume of rules, and, instead,

set clear goals and challenge people to come up with

their own ways to meet them. That kind of

government will be very different from the old

one-size-fits-all bureaucracy. But it also would be

different from the new proposals for

one-size-fits-all deregulation and cutbacks.

I want to see a different approach. I want

a government that is limited but effective, that is

lean but not mean, that does what it should do

better and simply stops doing things that it

shouldn't be doing in the first place, that protects

consumers and workers, the environment, without

burdening business, choking innovation or wasting

the money of the American taxpayers.

We do need to reduce paperwork and unnecessary

regulation. I don't think we want to freeze efforts

to protect our children from unsafe toys or unsafe

food. We do need to carefully analyze the risks,

the costs, the benefits of everything we do, but I

don't think it's a better approach to pile on dozens

of new procedural requirements. That will only run

up legal bills and weaken the public trust.

Paralysis by process is not common sense.

So as I said before, reform, yes; and let's do

it with a bipartisan flare. But let's don't roll

back our commitment to the things that make life

worth living here. We all want water we can drink

and air we can breathe, food we can eat and a place

we can work in and feel safe and secure. But we

know that the way we have sought these goals through

government often -- often -- has frustrated the very

goals we seek. The way our regulatory system has

grown into a dense jungle of rules and regulations,

precise lists of do this and don't do that, can trip

up even the most well-intentioned business person.

Can you imagine a fellow like this running a

shop like this on the cutting edge of the

environment, is afraid to call the federal

government for advice? There is no better example

of what has been wrong. Here's a guy who's tried to

do right, wants to do more right and is afraid that

if he does it, he'll be punished for doing it. It

really is true that often in the government no good

deed goes unpunished. (Laughter.) So it's time to

stop doing things that drive people up the wall.

A few weeks ago, my good friend, the Governor

of Florida, who is also on this journey with us and

has talked to me for more than -- oh, I don't know

-- 10 years we've been working on these issues, long

before I ever thought of running for president --

gave me this remarkable book that is now sweeping

the country, "The Death of Common Sense." It makes

an interesting point, the book does. It says that

in our entirely understandable and necessary desire

to protect the public, we have put in place a system

that very often requires those who are carrying it

out to defy common sense, unduly burden private

taxpayers, and undermine the very objectives we are

seeking to achieve.

Now, the author of that book, Philip Howard,

has made a major contribution to the American debate

on this. He's here with us today. He has done some

work with the Vice President's National Performance

Review, and I'd like to ask him to stand and be

recognized. And thank you, sir, for doing this.


Over the last two years, we've tried to get

this government of ours into some kind of shape. We

have lowered the deficit by $600 billion, and we've

reduced the size of the federal bureaucracy by over

100,000. We're on the way to reducing the federal

work force by more than a quarter of a million.

It'll be the smallest it's been since President

Kennedy was here when our budgets are finally


Now, we've tried to do more than that. We've

tried to do more than just cut. We've tried to

change the way the government works. We've tried to

spend more money, for example, on education and

training and research and technology -- the things

that we believe will raise incomes, offer more

people opportunity, and protect the environment

while grow the economy. I don't think we should

apologize for that. We should exercise judgment and

common sense about what we cut and what we spend

money on.

We also are trying to change the regulatory

environment. I was proud to sign the first bill

this new Congress passed, which applies to Congress

most of the laws they impose on the private sector.

I think that will have a very salutary impact on the

deliberations of Congress.

We are about to get a bill out of the Congress

which will restrict the ability of Congress to

impose mandates on state and local governments that

are unfunded; I think that is a good idea. And

maybe most important of all, we're working hard, as

the Vice President has said, to eliminate rules that

are obsolete, to simplify rules that are too

complicated, to cut paperwork wherever we can; in

short, just to change the way government works.

Most of the people I grew up with, who all

write me with their great ideas now that I've become

President, are just out there living in this

country, making a living, raising their families,

obeying the law and doing the best they can. I

believe their biggest objection to government is not

the size of it, but the way it regulates, the way it

operates in their own lives.

And I have done my best, relying on the

extraordinary leadership of the Vice President and

the National Performance Review staff, and all the

people who have been introduced here, particularly

from the SBA and the EPA and the FDA and the Office

of Management and Budget, to try to change this.

Let me just give you some examples. We want

economic development. We've got the most active

Commerce Department in American history. But the

Commerce Department is also cutting the rules for

businesses in half. That will also develop the


We want nutritious food, and the USDA has

raised food safety standards, but they're also

making it easier to import safe fruits and

vegetables. We ought to repeal silly rules. The

Department of the Interior just eliminated feather

import quotas for exotic birds, and a lot of other

things as well.

So what are we going to do now? Today we're

announcing the first big step of what I assure you

is just the beginning of a process that we intend to

continue for as long as we have the public trust.

First, we want to do something that recognizes that

most of the businesses in this country are small,

most of them want to do the right thing, and most of

the new jobs are being created by them. We want to

get our enforcers out of the business of mindlessly

writing traffic tickets, and into the business of

achieving results. We're going to let these

regulators apply common sense.

Two of the three problems Mr. Howard talks

about in his book are addressed here today. One is

that in our attempt to try to tell people how we

think the government should regulate, we have tried

to imagine all conceivable permutations of things

that could occur, and then write rules to cover

them. The other is that we've been far more

obsessed -- the government has in the past -- with

process than results. That's the general problem I

might add, of Washington, D.C., not confined

entirely to the government. (Laughter.)

Today, we are ordering a government-wide

policy. Enforcers will be given the authority to

waive up to 100 percent of punitive fines for small

businesses so that a business person who acts in

good faith can put his energy into fixing the

problem, not fighting with a regulator. In

other words, if they want to spend the fine money

fixing the problem, better they should keep it and

fix the problem than get it to the government.

Similarly, regulators will be given the

discretion to waive fines for small businesses

altogether if it's a first-time violation, and

the firms quickly and sincerely move to correct the

problem. Let me be clear: These changes will not

be an excuse for violating criminal laws, they won't

be an amnesty for businesses that harm public

health, they won't enable people to undermine the

safety of the public while their competitors play by

the rules. But we will stop playing "gotcha" with

decent, honest business people who want to be good

citizens -- compliance, not punishment, should be

our objective. (Applause.)

The second thing we want to do is to curb the

government's appetite for paperwork. We are going

to have each agency allow regularly-scheduled

reports to the government to be cut in half, unless

there is some important public purpose that won't

permit it. In other words, if people file quarterly

reports, we want the agency to say "file them twice

a year." If they file them twice a year, file

annual reports. The Vice President likes that; we'll

leave more trees up and we'll save more time for

small business. Time is money. Time is the most

important thing we have.

You know, we got rid of the federal personnel

manuals. I forget -- the Vice President knows

better than I do -- I forget how many thousands of



THE PRESIDENT: Ten thousand pages. You know,

I have yet to have the first federal employee come

up and attack me for that. (Laughter.) I've yet to

have the first citizen say, "How dare you waste

my money. With this new arbitrary system, you got

rid of these 10,000 pages -- I can't sleep at night

for thinking about it being gone." (Laughter.) And

believe me, nobody will notice this as long as we

take care to protect the public health, the public

safety and the public interest.

The second thing I want to talk about are

fundamental reforms in the area of the environment

and drug and medical services. Environmental

regulation touches every part of our lives. And

this is a moment of transition in our environmental

policy. The modern era began in 1970 with Earth Day

-- the passage of landmark legislation and the

creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The results, we should never forget, are a

great American success story, envied and copied

around the world, because we made a common

commitment to protect the environment, people are

living longer and living better, and we have a

chance to pass the country along to our children and

grandchildren in far better shape than would have

been the case otherwise. But the methods that

worked in the past aren't necessarily adequate to

the present day.

Our environmental programs must work better

and cost less to meet the challenges of the future.

Today we are announcing a landmark package of 25

environmental reforms. Let me describe them in

general terms.

First we recognize that market mechanisms

generally make more sense than micromanagement by

the government. Letting utilities buy and sell

their rights under the Clean Air Act, for example,

has saved utilities and their customers $2 billion

and given us cleaner air. Today we will

dramatically extend this market concept to other

areas of clean air and water protection.

Second, too many businesses are afraid to come

to the EPA for help in cleaning up their act because

they're afraid they'll be punished; that's the story

you just heard. We're going to open compliance

centers to help small businesses and say to them, if

you discover a problem, you'll have 180 days to fix

it with no punitive fine.

And, third, because you shouldn't need a

forest full of paper to protect the environment, EPA

will cut its paperwork requirements on businesses

and communities by 25 percent -- that is 20 million

hours of work for businesses and communities that

will be saved for other purposes next year.


While these steps will improve the current

system, others will move well beyond it to a shift

in the way we actually think about regulation. EPA

will launch a pilot program called "Project XL" --

excellence and leadership -- which is simple but

revolutionary. They will say to the companies in

the pilot and, hopefully, eventually, the companies

all across the country, here is the pollution

reduction goal.

If you can figure out how to meet it, you can throw

out the EPA rulebook. You figure out how to meet the

goal. (Applause.)

I want to say, especially here, how much I

appreciate both the environmental groups and the

business groups that are here. We know that

pollution prevention pays. We know pollution

prevention and reduction is a great source of job

creation for America, as well as a guarantee for our

children, that this country will be worth living in.

We also ought to be smart enough to know that

people who are living with the consequences of this

might be able to figure out how to fix it better

than folks who are writing rules about it. So we're

going to see if we can figure out how to do it in

this way.

The other set of major reforms we're talking

about involve the realms of drugs and medical

devices. When I was running for president, I don't

know how many Americans I had come up to me and talk

to me about this all over the country, but

especially in places where a lot of this kind of

work is done. There was a time when consumers might

find that their food was adulterated, their drugs

were quackery or had dreadful side effects.

Today, Americans don't have to worry about the

safety or effectiveness when they buy anything --

from cough syrups to the latest antibiotics or

pacemakers. The Food and Drug Administration has

made American drugs and medical devices the envy of

the world and in demand all over the world. And we

should never forget that, either. And we are going

to stick with the standards we have; the highest in

the world. But strong standards need not mean

business as usual in every area.

Today, we announcing a set of reforms that

will make our high-quality drugs and medical devices

available to consumers more quickly and more

cheaply. First, FDA will stop using a full-blown

review every time a biotech drug company makes a

minor and risk-free manufacturing change in an

established drug.

Second, FDA will stop requiring costly

assessments on drugs that obviously have no

significant impact on the environment.

Third, FDA will eliminate 600 pages of

cumbersome regulations controlling the production of

antibiotics and other drugs. And I'll give

you $100 if anybody comes up to you and complains

within the next 12 months -- (laughter) -- when you

do that. And finally, 140 categories of medical

devices that pose low risk to patients, from finger

exercisers to oxygen masks, will no longer need

pre-approval by FDA before they are put on the


These FDA reforms, and others we'll announce

in the next few weeks, will keep quality at

world-class levels and save industry and consumers

nearly half a billion dollars a year. And I am

pleased, again, to say that there are

representatives from the drug and medical device

industry here, as well. We appreciate your support.

I am very, very excited about this. These

changes, taken together, represent real and

fundamental reform. Now, they lack the sledge

hammer subtlety of a moratorium, but if we're going

to be responsible we ought to fix the problem, not

just seek to freeze the problem. To go from

yesterday's government to tomorrow's government we

need movement, not paralysis. We need to continue

our commitment to a government that works better,

costs less, reflects our values and can make a

difference, and that doesn't drive us up the wall,

but drives us into the future together. That is

common sense, and we can give it to the American

people together.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

(A presentation is made.)

Tell us about it, Stu.

MR. MCMICHAEL: This is a poster that we

produced. This is on recycled paper with soy ink.

We produced this in about 5 hours, yesterday, so we

could present it to the President of the United

States and the Vice President today. So, thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good job. We'll take

this with us.

END11:09 A.M. EST


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