As my former Senate and House colleagues consider making long-overdue reforms to our nation’s outdated tax code, I urge them to think like a small-business owner and be mindful of how the proposed changes will ultimately affect Main Street America.
From the mom and pop grocery store to the family-owned cafe, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the net jobs created in this country. Yet too often, they don’t have a say in the government policies handed down that directly affect their ability to hire new employees and contribute to economic growth.
Businesses crave certainty. If they know about a costly new regulation or upcoming changes in tax policy, small-business owners can save and plan accordingly. It’s the uncertainty and the seemingly haphazard way in which some federal regulations are currently handed down that keeps the small-business owner awake at night.
Clearly, if the mere mention of the word regulation is enough to immediately send shivers down the spine of small-business owners from Colorado to Arkansas, then the process is broken. Washington decision-makers have the power to help Main Street America rest easier right now and it starts by simply asking whether a proposed regulation or policy change will impact small businesses before moving ahead with implementation.
We know the current regulatory structure is holding back economic growth. In a recent Gallup poll, 85 percent of small-business owners cited government regulations as the reason they’re not hiring. And the uncertainty surrounding the federal regulatory process is one of the top three concerns the National Federation of Independent Business regularly hears from its members. When regulations are discussed in Washington, too often the topic is approached from a theoretical position. And, in theory, we can discuss a regulation and the benefits and consequences of each rule. But, multiply this discussion by 3,300 (the number of regulations currently in the federal pipeline, waiting to be implemented) and then factor in all the unintended consequences of each new regulation. The thought is almost too overwhelming to consider.
But this is the reality for many hardworking Americans. Small-business owners are not just dealing with the unintended consequences of a few bad regulations, but the compounded effects of a complex regulatory system that’s more interested in collecting fines than in ensuring small-business success.
Calling for system-wide reforms isn’t the same thing as calling for the regulatory structure to be dissolved. Any small-business owner will tell you that regulations are essential to the health of both their businesses and their consumers. But, often, well-intended regulations fail to consider everyday realities and, as a result, neither the employer nor the consumer benefits.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.