REINing Regs In

Dec 7, 2011
Opinion Piece

 

“Please don’t challenge us with more rules and regulations from Washington.” That was the plea to President Obama from Rock Katschnig, an Atkinson, Ill.-based soybean farmer and small-businessman at an August town-hall meeting.

While Mr. Katschnig was specifically referencing his opposition to the Administration’s imposed Farm Dust rule, a rule that if implemented would affect America’s 1.8 million farmers, his sentiments have become an all too common refrain from American businesses of all sizes across countless sectors.

Appropriate and responsible regulations are important, helping to keep us safe and our environment clean. Yet Washington has become a red-tape factory stunting job creation with a dizzying amount of federally imposed regulations written by unaccountable bureaucrats with little or no regard for the jobs each will cost.

The sheer amount and breadth of the administration’s proposed regulations make it impossible to address each and every one. Yet we can take action to stop the most excessive and economically-devastating regulations. Right now, the Obama Administration has 4,257 new regulations in the works, 219 of which will cost over $100 million annually – 15 percent more than last year. At a time when job creators are fighting to survive in an already tough economy, thousands of additional regulations will only result in significantly fewer jobs – hitting small businesses particularly hard.

Fortunately there is a bipartisan solution to this regulatory madness. Later today, the House will vote on commonsense legislation requiring congressional approval for regulations that cost businesses over $100 million annually.

The REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) would ensure that regulations that make sense become the law of the land, while those that would devastate job growth are shelved. On top of ensuring that unelected bureaucrats do not impose these behind a cloak of darkness, the REINS Act would also bring transparency and accountability to an all-too-secretive policymaking arena.

All this fall, congressional Republicans have listened to job creators about the crushing effects of Washington regulations: as guests of Speaker Boehner during September’s joint session, in meetings with members, and in countless other venues at home and in Congress.

Spencer Weitman, a job creator from Alabama’s cement industry who attended President Obama’s joint-session address, told CNBC moments after the speech: “We were going to create jobs. We were going to have construction projects.” This was in reference to the devastating effects of the administration’s cement MACT rule, just one of the 219 regulations with a greater-than-$100 million effect on the economy.

Jeff Rose, of Vantage Data Centers, a California-based wholesale data-center provider, had this message for Washington on a recent visit: “In our experience it’s getting worse.” His colleague, Jennifer Fraser, explained how regulations can hinder their ability to deliver their product: “Part of our niche is speed to market . . . and the restrictions from a permitting perspective can put a project back nine months, ten months, 15 months.”

Even more disturbing, the 219 regulations that could each cost the economy over $100 million would have a disproportionate impact on small businesses. A recent Small Business Administration study showed the total cost to employers of federal regulations is $1.75 trillion. For businesses with fewer than 20 employees, the per-employee cost was $10,585 — 36 percent higher than larger businesses. Washington needs to be removing barriers to small-business job creation, not adding more roadblocks to recovery.

This is why House Republicans devoted much of the fall legislative calendar to regulations. Today’s REINS Act will be the 15th specific House-passed regulatory-relief bill. Not one has been voted on by the U.S. Senate, even though job creators tell Congress that Washington regulations are destroying their businesses and in turn their employees’ careers. It’s long past time that the Senate votes on these bipartisan bills that would immediately remove barriers to job creation. It’s what American job creators need. 

— Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) is House majority whip and Rep. Pete Roskam (Ill.) is chief deputy whip.