By Congressman Frank Lucas
When I talk to many of the farmers, ranchers, and business owners in the Third District, the number one concern I hear about is government red tape. Whether it’s EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule that placed confusing restrictions on what individuals can do with their private property or the arbitrary requirements Obamacare forces on employers, these rules and regulations accumulate into one major headache for folks trying to make a living.
In the past eight years the federal government has provided little relief under former President Obama.
Many of the bureaucrats behind the rules coming out of federal agencies have never themselves had to take on the risk of running a business – to hire employees, balance a budget, and contend with market competition or unpredictable economic factors. They haven’t had to deal with the price volatility many farmers and ranchers always have on their minds or the uncertainty behind planning for the next fiscal year.
For many small business owners, the added hours of paperwork alone present an overwhelming burden. This often unintended consequence of federal regulations leads to an uneven playing field. Larger corporations can afford to hire professionals to parse through new regulations while smaller businesses simply find themselves buried under a mountain of paperwork. Getting rid of particularly far-reaching and onerous regulations enables business owners to focus more of their time on what’s important: running a successful enterprise.
Regulations passed down by the federal government not only present a major time sink for businesses, they also siphon money out of our economy. Money that could otherwise be put toward hiring more workers, investing in new equipment, or even consumer spending.
In their latest annual study, the Competitive Enterprise Institute found that the cost of government regulations on the U.S. economy reached $1.885 trillion in 2015. This adds up to nearly $15,000 per American household each year.
Fortunately, Congress and the White House are eager to do everything we can to encourage economic opportunity and growth.
For one, the Congressional Review Act provides Congress with the ability to review and repeal any regulation from the past few months. We have already used and will continue to use this tool as a way of unwinding many of the Obama administration’s last minute rules and regulations, including arbitrary restrictions on our country’s energy producers and costly and time-consuming burdens placed on educators.
Coming into the new year, Congress has worked to tackle overregulation at an unprecedented pace. Members of Congress have brought up 37 separate resolutions to repeal various last minute regulations pushed through by the Obama administration.
President Trump has set the stage for cleaning up government overregulation by issuing an executive order that requires federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one adopted. This will hopefully force various government agencies to rethink and optimize their approach to rulemaking.
The House and Senate will also address some of the more burdensome regulations and laws that are the source of much of the overregulation holding back our economy.
Dodd-Frank, for example, created thousands of pages of rules that many financial institutions, especially smaller banks, are having trouble navigating. This increasingly complex red tape makes it more difficult for these banks to lend money to growing businesses, entrepreneurs, or families looking to purchase a home or car.
Obamacare is another major roadblock. The law not only impacts Americans’ access to quality health care, but also the ability for businesses to hire new employees. Employee coverage requirements under Obamacare are unrealistic for many small businesses, especially those who hire part time staff.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress as we continue to identify and tackle instances of overregulation. Like pulling dandelions out of your front yard every year, the work of unwinding the regulatory regime takes time, but it can be done.