Last Tuesday, the White House unveiled its plan to reduce and reform federal regulations. After the President’s promise in the State of the Union to ‘merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America,’ I was optimistic that his plan would provide real relief to businesses that are crumbling under the weight of overregulation. I was hopeful the administration had heard the pleas of American business owners and was willing to confront the out-of-control regulatory environment. Unfortunately, it seems that once again the President’s rhetoric did not yield any real results.
The plan put forth by the White House barely scratches the surface of the regulatory reform truly needed to get our economy back on track. It ignores many of the most burdensome and job-killing new federal regulations created by legislation like Dodd-Frank and the new healthcare reform law. In fact, the number of regulations projected to take effect this year is almost 15 percent higher than last year and will cost billions of dollars more.
Last week, Speaker Boehner wrote President Obama expressing concern over his regulatory agenda and asking his administration to identify all new rules that would have an economic impact of more than $1 billion. Speaker Boehner wrote a similar letter in August of 2010, but his request seemed to fall on deaf ears. The administration’s failure to comply with Speaker Boehner’s requests illustrates both a lack of transparency and a lack of concern about the true impact that overregulation has on our economy.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, I am familiar with the impact federal regulations have had on our small businesses. Over the last several months, the Committee has heard from countless small business owners that overregulation and uncertainty keeps them from creating jobs. While several have pointed to the healthcare law and Dodd-Frank as their primary concern, countless other overreaching regulations have also been brought to light.
In June, Bradford Muller of the Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company in Charlotte, NC testified about his experience with EPA regulations, “Based on our recent experience, I can only conclude that our current government looks at manufacturers not as partners that would alleviate unemployment and generate tax revenues but as targets to regulate and intimidate to justify the ever-expanding reach of the federal bureaucracy.”
Similarly, Robbie LeValley, a cow-calf producer and small meat packer from Colorado spoke about the impact the USDA’s proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule would have on her business, “The proposed GIPSA rule will destroy our small business model, force us to lay off our employees, cripple our ability to market our cattle the way we want to and limit consumer choice.”
Small firms are the cornerstone of our economy and our best job creators and it is important that we provide an economic environment that allows them to thrive. Many unnecessary regulations place costly and, oftentimes, unmanageable burdens on the backs of small business owners that inhibit many from hiring additional employees and even force some to close.
Overregulation is not a new problem for American small businesses. In 1980, Congress passed the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) legislation aimed at relieving the stress of onerous regulation on small businesses. The RFA mandates that all federal agencies examine the impact of their proposed rules on small businesses, and if those impacts are significant, the agency must consider less burdensome alternatives. Earlier this year, I sponsored two bills aimed at strengthening the RFA; the Small Business Size Standard Flexibility Act of 2011 (H.R. 585) and the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 (H.R. 527). These two bills would close loopholes used by agencies to avoid compliance with the RFA.
With an unemployment rate that remains stagnant at nine percent, it is clear that this administration’s policies are not working. What we need is true regulatory reform, not just strong rhetoric. Getting Americans back to work is priority number one for House Republicans. I hope the Senate and the President will join with us as we take real steps toward creating a better environment for job creation by eliminating job-destroying regulations this Fall.
Congressman Sam Graves represents Missouri's Sixth Congressional District. In Congress, Rep. Graves serves as the Chairman of the Small Business Committee.