We know about Darrell Issa’s steady stream of investigations. What we didn’t know is how central federal regulations were to that list. In fact, in determining how to proceed on the regulatory aspect of his oversight hearings, he has enlisted the industries themselves to tell him which regulations to jettison. Because there’s nothing corporations do better than act in the public interest.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants the oil industry, drug manufacturers and other trade groups and companies to tell him which Obama administration regulations to target this year.

The incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – in letters sent to more than 150 trade associations, companies and think tanks last month – requested a list of existing and proposed regulations that would harm job growth.

…a partial list obtained by POLITICO includes ones sent Dec. 13 to Duke Energy, the Association of American Railroads, FMC Corp., Toyota and Bayer. Others receiving inquiries from Issa over the course of the month included the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) and entities representing health care and telecommunication providers [...]

“As a trade organization with members that must comply with the regulatory state, I ask for your assistance in identifying existing and proposed regulations that have negatively impacted job growth in your members’ industry,” Issa wrote in a Dec. 8 letter to NAM. “Additionally, suggestions on reforming identified regulations and the rulemaking process would be appreciated.”

The phrase “the facts were fixed around the policy” come to mind. Darrell Issa wants to kill a series of regulations. He asks trade groups and lobbyists what regulations they don’t like. Then he’ll hold investigations where the most “corrupt” regulations which inhibit job growth line up perfectly with the ones which angered his corporate masters. It’s all so tidy.

In reality, those regulations don’t inhibit growth so much as they protect the public. The main regulations named in the article are things like EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act, which protects kids from getting asthma and dying of pollution, SEC and CFTC regulation of derivatives, which protects the nation from a financial crisis and the resulting job loss of millions, and OSHA regulations, so that you don’t fall into a giant vat of chocolate and die while you’re at work.

This fits with a pattern that we’ll see emerge this year, of Republicans basically trying to grind the regulatory process to a halt. Whatever you say about the Obama Administration, compared to his predecessor and his counterparts in the Congressional GOP delegation, he at least thinks regulatory agencies should exist. Republicans want to defund major laws passed by the previous Congress, including food safety and financial reform. Both rely on the regulatory state heavily, and are therefore vulnerable to funding cutbacks that would claw back the reform. It’s not worth passing a law mandating more inspections of food production facilities, for example, if you can’t actually fund the inspections.

It doesn’t matter to incoming Republicans that something like proper food safety inspections would save a lot of money in the long run. It represents an up-front cost to industry, who are clearly controlling the process. Issa’s investigations will provide a ready-made argument that we should relieve companies from the burden of having to worry about being caught poisoning people.