Economic growth smothered

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Obama administration has made no secret of its efforts to affect change in America. From higher taxes on workers and business, to greater government intrusion into personal healthcare decisions, there has been plenty of evidence the White House wants to grow the size and reach of government at a time when many Americans believe the same bloated federal bureaucracy is hindering economic growth.
One area where the administration has been quietly ramping up government control is in increased regulations on businesses. The first year of the Obama administration was largely focused on its health care and stimulus bills. Both were steamrolled through Congress despite the near unanimous opposition of conservatives and both remain unpopular with a majority of the public. Getting less attention is the president’s Cap and Trade energy legislation, which was also pushed in 2009. It passed the Democrat-led House with almost total Republican opposition but was stopped in the Senate.
Cap and Trade, which would have subjected America’s energy producers to costly new emissions controls, raising energy costs for everyone, is not dead. Far from it, the controversial program lives on through proposed air quality regulations imposed by the Obama administration through the EPA. It is clear, what the president cannot pass through Congress, he will implement through Executive Branch regulation.
In early September during his address to a joint session of Congress to propose his jobs program, President Obama admitted that the kudzu-like growth of government regulations on business serves to dampen job creation, and he even suggested that he would be willing to work with Congress to review such actions. But in the following weeks there has been little evidence that he was serious.
While largely unseen by the public, federal regulations do have an impact on jobs. A report released by the U.S. Small Business Administration in Septem-ber 2010 notes that federal regulatory costs to businesses total $1.75 trillion each year. Small businesses, in particular, bear a disproportionate share of these costs, averaging over $10,000 for each employee. Here along the Gulf Coast, we have recently experienced the direct impact of government overreaching in the oil production industry. The administration’s de facto moratorium on new oil drilling has cost the region tens of thousands of jobs. With the nation struggling though the effects of a prolonged recession, Washing-ton can best help by getting out of the way of our jobs creators. Hiring hundreds of new bureaucrats to impose more regulations on business is exactly the wrong approach to jumpstarting the economy. It’s time for the president to join the House in clearing a path for job growth.

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