Regulations Are Killing Jobs

When companies must spend money to comply with an ever-increasing flood of federal regulations, they need to make cuts in other areas. This usually means holding off on job creation or even cutting their existing work force and employee hours. What does it cost American businesses to comply with excessive federal regulations? The Competitive Enterprise Institute puts the figure at $1.8 trillion a year.

This amount is more than half what it costs to run the federal government. Plus, government agencies spend $61 billion per year just to administer and enforce federal regulations — a 50 percent increase in the last decade.

Our government has added more than 80,000 regulations in the last 20 years — 3,708 in the last year alone. This equates to a new rule being enacted every 2½ hours.

In a press conference on June 29, 2011, President Obama said that a priority for him and his administration was taking a never-done-before, government-wide look at existing regulations to eliminate ones that don’t make sense. How’s that plan working out?

Completed rules reviewed in the federal Unified Agenda compilation of priority regulations went up 16 percent in the last year and 40 percent the year before. There are more federal regulations than ever — the Code of Federal Regulations, which compiles all federal regulations, grew by more than 4,000 pages last year and now stands at 174,545 pages, spread over 238 volumes. Its index alone runs to more than 1,100 pages.

But more pages will be added. Today, 4,062 regulations are pending, which will add at least $22 billion in compliance costs.

And according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute report, “When it comes to economically significant rules — those expected to cost $100 million or more in compliance costs — the Obama administration is the unchallenged champion. Of the 4,062 rules in the pipeline, 224 are in this category. That level is 24 percent higher than President Bush’s most active year and far higher than any other year since 2000 — except for 2010, which was tied.”

If you want to get a handle on ways that federal regulations crush job creation, there’s no better example than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would follow a direct route from Alberta, Canada, through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska and then continue through Kansas and Oklahoma to the refineries in Texas along the Gulf Coast. This new pipeline would ideally transport crude petroleum recovered from the Alberta tar sands and from North Dakota shale fields.

TransCanada currently estimates that the Keystone XL pipeline will provide 7,000 new steel manufacturing jobs and anywhere from 6,500 to 12,000 construction and maintenance jobs.

Could this country use 20,000 new jobs? You would think so, unless you recall that on January 3, 2012, Obama signed the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011 into law. The Act, which reauthorizes federal pipeline safety programs through fiscal year 2015, provides for enhanced safety, reliability and environmental protection in the transportation of energy products by pipeline. The Act increases federal enforcement authority grants the federal government expanded authority over pipeline safety, provides for new safety regulations and standards, and authorizes or requires the completion of several pipeline safety-related studies.

Does this sound like a pre-emptive legislative strike to appease the progressive left and environmentalists that contribute millions to Obama and the Democratic party? You bet it is, using the Environmental Protection Agency as the enforcement arm of Obama’s anti-business energy policies.

The move to reduce oppressive federal regulations is under way. Although Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, came under fire recently for an ethnic slur, in 2010, he introduced a bill that would abolish every federal regulation enacted in the past two decades, including restrictions on banking, oil drilling, healthcare and food and drug safety.

Federal regulations are out of control, and if we want to create jobs, they have to make sense and not be enacted to punish small businesses — our job creators. The Small Business Administration estimates that federal regulations cost on average $10,000 per employee.

That means in the absence of federal regulations, a typical business with 10 employees would have $100,000 lower costs. Even in this uncertain economy, most businesses would use this additional capital to expand and possibly hire an additional worker.

If Congress accomplishes nothing else during the last three years of the Obama administration, they can begin the process for reducing federal regulations that kill American jobs. It’s time for bold action to cut regulations and neutralize the federal agencies that pass these regulations with seemingly no oversight. No American should be regulated out of a job.


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