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REP. TIM GRIFFIN: Job creators need a break from President Obama's aggressive regulatory agenda

March 12, 2012

When President Obama’s $825 billion stimulus bill was signed into law, he promised it would save or create 3.5 million jobs and keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. Three years later, with 12.7 million Americans looking for work and unemployment above 8 percent for 37 straight months and counting, the economic recovery President Obama promised us still hasn’t happened. By any standard, the stimulus has failed and only served to dig our country deeper into debt.

When it comes to getting America back on track, President Obama says one thing and does another. He says the federal government must live within its means but then proposes trillions more in deficit spending. He says he supports shovel-ready jobs but then rejects the Keystone XL pipeline. He says America must become energy independent but then directs a significant decline in oil production on federal lands as gas prices inflict more and more pain on people at the pump. He says he supports job creators but then criticizes their profits, demands they pay higher taxes, and opposes policies that would eliminate uncertainty.

President Obama’s roadblocks to America’s economic recovery don’t stop there. Under his Administration, the number of major regulations—defined as those that carry an annual economic cost of $100 million or more—has increased significantly. In his State of the Union address, President Obama boasted about having “approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his,” but that’s misleading. Here are the facts: The previous Administration issued an average of 63 major regulations each year while the Obama Administration has averaged 88 per year—an increase of 40 percent. In terms of economic impact, the previous Administration added $60 billion in annual regulatory costs over eight years. If the Obama Administration is given the same amount of time and maintains its current pace, it would add nearly $150 billion annually in new regulatory costs. This is simply too much. The government’s Small Business Administration estimates that current regulations already cost $1.75 trillion every year and add $10,585 in overhead per employee. As The Economistmagazine recently noted, given the increase in regulations “It’s a wonder the jobless rate isn’t even higher than it is.”

I recently held a jobs conference in Little Rock where more than 60 job creators and community leaders discussed how President Obama’s policies are impacting the economy and job creation in Arkansas. I heard again and again from participants that excessive and overly burdensome regulations are a serious barrier to growing the economy and creating jobs. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new rules for boilers, process heaters, and incinerators requiring owners such as hospitals, factories and farms to comply with complex control standards. It’s estimated that the EPA’s Boiler MACT rules could cost Arkansas’s economy over $338 million and put more than 5,400 Arkansans out of work. An IHS Global Insight study estimated that compliance costs would be over $14 billion nationally and put more than 230,000 U.S. jobs at risk. How do regulations like that make economic sense? They don’t, and as Tyson Foods Senior Vice President Ken Kimbro told me, “[I]t seems like [regulators] turn a blind eye to the unintended consequences” of regulations and their effect on businesses, “the state of Arkansas, and to the jobs that support everything that we do.”

I am focused on jobs and listening to what job creators say they need to grow. Instead of joining my colleagues and me, President Obama is attacking us. In October, he said that our attempts to weed out excessive and overly burdensome regulations mean we want “dirtier air [and] dirtier water.” That’s nonsense. As the father of two young children, I recognize the importance of protecting our environment and keeping our food safe and our air clean. Let me be clear: Reasonable government regulation is important and ensures the health and safety of our families and communities. Well-intentioned federal employees work hard to assess complex problems and propose constructive solutions. But these protections too often prove counterproductive when political ideology crowds out common sense and replaces input from those who are actually required to live under the law.

Americans understand that President Obama’s aggressive regulatory agenda goes too far. The February 2012 Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index found that nearly half of small business owners who are not hiring at this time point to government regulations as the reason. Likewise, a poll conducted for the National Federation of Independent Business found that roughly three out of four registered voters thought there are too many pending regulations. And more than 60 percent of respondents thought that federal regulations are harming rather than helping small businesses. Given its unpopularity, it’s no wonder President Obama has sought to distance himself from his blitz of bureaucratic red tape.

I’ve listened to my constituents, and I get it: President Obama’s policies are making things worse and job creators need a break. We need a society where hard work is rewarded and every American has the opportunity to succeed. That’s why I’ve introduced the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act (H.R. 4078), which will put a moratorium on all new regulations that would cost the economy $100 million or more until the unemployment rate falls to six percent. By carefully targeting the most harmful policies, my bill will allow the federal government to continue to provide for public safety while freezing President Obama’s tendency to over-regulate America's job creators and stifle economic growth. The Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act makes exceptions for rules necessary for national security, trade agreements, criminal law enforcement, and imminent threats to health or safety. Out of an abundance of caution, it will include a provision that will allow the President to seek Congressional approval for other regulations recognized as absolutely critical. Most importantly, it will help get America moving again.

I am honored to have the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s support for the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act. The Chamber represents more than three million job creators and organizations across the nation – including many in the Second District of Arkansas. President Obama admitted in his State of the Union speech that “there’s no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly.” If there’s no question about the problem, the President should support my solution. Congress should pass the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act now.

United States Congressman Tim Griffin (R), represents the 2nd congressional district of Arkansas.

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