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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 4:08 am | Fair 49º


Tom Donohue: The Regulatory Hurricane

We've gone too far with our ever-expanding laws, many of them outdated and ineffective

Today, a regulatory hurricane threatens our economy and its ability to create the 20 million new jobs we need by the end of this decade. It’s been building up strength for some time. During the past several decades, more than 100,000 regulations have been issued, many of which impose heavy burdens on our job creators.

Tom Donohue
Tom Donohue

In the past two years, we’ve seen a dramatic acceleration of major regulations and mandates, from the health-care and financial reform laws to some of the most activist agendas ever undertaken by federal agencies. Businesses are hunkering down in response, hoping to wait out the storm until the economy becomes more certain. Without certainty, businesses find it difficult to make the plans and investments needed to grow and create jobs.

The business community has long recognized the need for sensible regulations to ensure workplace safety, guarantee worker rights and protect public health. But we’ve gone too far. America is sinking under the weight of the ever-expanding regulatory state.

If you want to see how far-reaching the regulatory state has become, look at the Code of Federal Regulations. Put simply, it includes every regulation in force in this country. The document is nearly 150,000 pages long, spread over 50 volumes.

While many regulations have a positive impact, many others are outdated, ineffective, overly complicated and counterproductive. The Small Business Administration puts the total price tag of complying with federal regulations at $1.75 trillion in 2008. That amounts to $15,500 for each U.S. household.

It’s only going to get worse. The Environmental Protection Agency is advancing 29 proposed major rules and 173 others — an unprecedented level of regulatory action. The massive health-care law creates 183 new agencies, commissions, panels and other bodies. And the financial regulatory reform bill creates nearly 500 regulatory rules, 60 studies and 93 reports.

So what’s to be done to stem this rising tide?

First, Congress needs to stop approving bills that pass the buck to the regulators.

Second, Congress must exercise vigorous oversight of the sweeping bills that it passes.

Third, the federal agencies must do a much better job of complying with laws designed to ensure the use of quality data, cost-benefit analyses and the scrupulous review of regulations.

Finally, the American people must speak out against the regulatory hurricane that is overwhelming our economy and squelching job creation. 

At stake is the health of our economy, our standard of living, our global competitiveness and the free enterprise system that is at the heart of the American Dream.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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