One example of this is ground-level ozone rules. In 2011, President Barack Obama halted the EPAís plans to tighten the standard for ground level ozone due to an outcry from manufacturers, who would have been on the hook to play billions annually to comply. Many small and large U.S. manufacturers would not have been able to expand without having other local operations close or reduce their operations. Despite this history, the EPA is set to take up the regulation again this year, even after a federal court recently ruled that the current ozone standard protects human health. While enormous progress has been made to improve air quality, the system often seems designed to regulate certain industries out of business.
And the longer Washington waits to reform the system, the longer Main Street America will suffer. During the past decade, the cost of regulations has far outweighed economic growth. Just since 2006, there has been a 60 percent increase in federal regulations that cost $100 million or more to comply with. Thatís money businesses are not investing in research and development, new staff, training or in their own operations.
Itís time we approach this problem not from the mindset of lawmakers, but from the viewpoint of small-business owners. Whether itís during a debate on tax reform or budget policy, Washington should resolve to spend more time thinking about how its policies and regulations will enable American small-business owners to be successful in 2014.
Blanche Lincoln is a former senator from Arkansas and the current chairwoman of the National Federation of Independent Businessí Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations coalition.