Weekly Columns

Rules, Regulations and How They Hurt Recovery

Senator John Boozman's Column for the Week of Week of September 26, 2011

Sep 26 2011

Regulations that protect consumers, borrowers and the environment improve the quality of life for all Americans.  They ensure we have safe food to eat, access to credit at fair rates and clean air to breathe.  We grant the government the ability to make these regulations, but in doing so, we entrust the government to make sensible regulations that do not encroach on our freedoms. 

The White House is abusing the regulatory process. Last year, the Obama Administration finalized 3,573 new rules—the costs of these new regulations amounted to $1.75 trillion—nearly 12% of GDP.  And it is only getting worse in 2011.  President Obama’s regulatory agenda for 2011 contains 219 proposed rules that have an economic cost of over $1 billion each. These new rules are hurting our economic recovery.

Regulations stifle economic growth in the form of substantial compliance costs on our nation’s job creators.  Overbearing, excessive regulations take farmers away from tending to their crops, slow the lines at the manufacturing plants and sap resources that could otherwise be put toward hiring more American workers. These days, the only new employees a business is looking to hire are compliance officers—not employees that can help expand and grow their operation.

Even many rules that have merely been proposed, not even enacted, are hurting our economy.  Big and small businesses need to plan ahead to succeed.  With so many proposed rules, it is nearly impossible for a business owner to plan with any degree of confidence.  If business owners don’t know what their tax rates and energy, healthcare and costs are going to be, then the last thing they are going to do is hire a bunch of people.

Here’s a perfect example of how this Administration is needlessly hampering economic growth through excessive regulations.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued very expensive and strict regulations to cover industrial and commercial boilers this past March.  These rules hit the timber industry hard, an industry that is a substantial part of Arkansas’s economy.  The American and Forest Paper Association recently released a study that shows these rules could cost 20,500 jobs and put 36 mills in risk of closure.  In some cases, these are the best jobs in town. 

I’m supporting legislation in the Senate to give federal regulators additional time and guidelines to develop achievable rules governing emissions from industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and incinerators.  We can’t afford to have more mills needlessly shut down.

But it is not just the paper and pulp industry threatened by the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed and harsh overregulation.  This is why I am working with my colleagues in the Senate to push for a moratorium on all major rules or require that every new major rule proposed by federal agencies be approved via joint resolution passed by both bodies in Congress and signed by the President.  This egregious overreach has to stop. 

It seems like the president is starting to understand how overregulation is hurting the private sector.  In his recent speech to Congress he called for a review of all government regulations, indicating that he has “identified over 500 reforms, which will save billions of dollars over the next few years.”  Well Mr. President, let’s get rid of some of these irrational rules, instead of creating more.

It is time for Pennsylvania Avenue to quit causing gridlock on Main Street’s attempts to get our economy moving again.