In the past six months, President Barack Obama attended 106 re-election fundraisers — and zero meetings with his jobs council. With America’s unemployment rate above 8 percent for 41 straight months and counting, he should focus more on learning how to encourage the creation of jobs and less on saving his own.
Despite doubts and disbelief by some Democrats, job creators — both big and small — tell me that excessive and overly burdensome regulations are an obstacle to hiring more workers and growing the economy. In a recent National Federation of Independent Business survey, small-business owners named “taxes” and “government regulation and red tape” among the most serious problems they face.
Even the president has talked about how excessive regulation hurts job creation, saying that, sometimes, rules “have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business — burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.” But talk is about all he has done to address the problem. Instead of reducing these roadblocks to recovery, Obama has increased them. He claims he has “approved fewer regulations” than his predecessor, but the numbers tell a different story.
In its first three years, the Obama administration created 120 new major regulations that cost Americans more than $46 billion every year. That’s more than four times the number and five times the cost of major regulations created by the Bush administration over its first three years. Imagine what this burden could look like after a second Obama term.
The Small Business Administration estimates that current regulations already cost $1.75 trillion every year and add $10,585 in overhead per employee. In a recent cover story titled “Over-regulated America,” the Economist magazine noted that, given the increase in regulations, “It’s a wonder the jobless rate isn’t even higher than it is.” As Tyson Foods Senior Vice President Ken Kimbro told me during a jobs conference I hosted in Little Rock, Ark., last fall, “[I]t seems like [regulators] turn a blind eye to the unintended consequences” of regulations and their effect on “the jobs that support everything that we do.”
The House is listening to job creators. Instead of joining us, Obama turned up the attacks, saying our attempts to weed out excessive and overly burdensome regulations mean we want “dirtier air” and “dirtier water.” That’s nonsense. As the father of two young children, I recognize the importance of protecting our environment and keeping our food safe and our air clean. Reasonable government regulation ensures the health and safety of our families and communities. But these protections too often prove counterproductive when political ideology crowds out common sense and replaces input from those who are actually required to live under the law.
Americans understand that Obama’s blitz of bureaucratic red tape is too much. In the February Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, nearly half of small-business owners who are not hiring cited government regulations as the reason. Another poll found that 74 percent of registered voters think there are too many pending regulations. And 63 percent think federal regulations are hurting, not helping, small businesses.
The House is listening, and we get it: Job creators need a break from the president’s aggressive regulatory agenda. This week, we will vote on the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act (H.R. 4078), which puts a moratorium on new regulations that would cost the economy $100 million or more until the unemployment rate falls to 6 percent or less. An analysis by the American Action Forum found this could save at least 2,700 jobs, 2.6 million paperwork hours and $22.1 billion in compliance costs.
As the lead sponsor of this legislation, I made sure it carefully targets the most harmful regulations while making exceptions for federal rules necessary for national security, trade agreements, enforcement of criminal and civil rights laws, and imminent threats to health or safety. It also includes a provision allowing the president to seek Congressional approval for other regulations that are absolutely critical.
The Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act rolls in other bills that would prevent outgoing presidents from issuing economically significant regulations at the last minute (H.R. 4607), increase transparency and judicial scrutiny of sue-and-settle litigation (H.R. 3862), require the Federal Communications Commission and the National Labor Relations Board to comply with the same regulatory review requirements as other agencies (H.R. 373), streamline the federal permitting process for major infrastructure projects (H.R. 4377), and require both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to conduct more thorough cost-benefit analyses of proposed regulations (H.R. 2308 and H.R. 1840).
In his State of the Union address, the president admitted “there’s no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary or too costly.” If there’s no question about the problem, he should embrace the House’s solution.
Rep. Tim Griffin (Ark.) is a member of the GOP freshman class of 2010.