April 17, 2014
By U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
The Senate recently passed legislation to extend long-term unemployment benefits. But there is a better way to deal with the unemployment issue other than just extending benefits. Let’s start by reining in the rampant job-killing regulations that businesses are struggling under. The estimated cost of compliance with federal regulations in 2013 was over $110 billion, resulting in over 67 million hours of paperwork. But this is just an estimation – we’ve had no concrete study to show us the cost of regulation to businesses since 2008. Congress should be looking to help lessen the regulatory burden on small businesses, not add to the problem.
As a champion of this cause, I recently cosponsored a bill with Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that would establish the Office of Regulatory Analysis as an independent agency that would submit reports on the costs of federal regulations, both in terms of agency spending and broader economic losses or gains. Based on the agency’s analysis and reports, Congress would establish an annual National Regulatory Budget, which would cap the total cost of regulations that can be implemented and enforced.
I also supported a bill offered by Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, which would improve the rulemaking process by increasing transparency and public input. It would also make the process for generating more costly rules more stringent.
Almost no other federal agency is more guilty of suppressing job growth through excessive regulatory measures than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I believe the EPA shouldn’t pass another regulation until the American people know the damage the current regulations are causing. That’s why I am working with Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., to pass a bill that would block the EPA from finalizing any new major regulation until the agency analyzes the economic impact of its current air regulations as required by the Clean Air Act. Under this Administration, the EPA has a track record of putting politics ahead of the economy and even the environment.
It’s time that the EPA answers to the American people for the jobs lost and brings a halt to its heavy-handed brand of environmentalism. The legislation I’m working on cites a number of examples where the EPA concluded that a regulation would result in the creation of jobs but the National Economic Research Associates (NERA) Economic Consulting firm reported job losses in the thousands. Our bill, the EPA Employment Impact Analysis Act, would show the true cost of the EPA’s regulations.
I also cosponsored an amendment authored by Senator John Thune that would hold the EPA accountable to taxpayers by increasing Congressional oversight of costly regulations. Thune’s amendment would require Congress to vote on any EPA regulation with costs greater than $50 million per year before that regulation could take effect. Unfortunately, the Senate majority leader blocked the Senate from voting on the amendment. Surely we can all agree that even if one disagrees with these amendments, they should at least get a vote.
These are just a few of the latest examples of efforts to stop the tsunami of new rules and regulations brought about by this Administration. Though 90 percent of small business owners support reforming the regulatory process, the current Administration and Senate majority, which controls the agenda, regularly blocks all attempts to calm our current atmosphere of regulatory fervor. In the first two months of 2014, 72 new proposed regulations affected small businesses, with 12 of them costing $100 million in compliance costs.
Congress agrees that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but many don’t seem concerned with or fully aware of how the federal policies created in Washington actually affect businesses on the ground. We need to know the hidden costs of regulations. The more we can free them from red tape, the more they can help drive our economy forward.