A new Gallup survey asked small-business owners an open-ended question about what they viewed to be “the most important problem” facing the small-business community. It’s not “lack of demand,” as Democrats like to argue. In fact, 22 percent of respondents listed “complying with government regulations” as their top concern.
House Republicans have been leading an effort to roll-back or repeal some of the most onerous federal regulations, and have already passed a number of measures that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has yet to take up. Democrats have been particularly loathe to accept the idea that concern over federal regulations is anything more than a self-serving fiction conjured up by Republicans as part of their sinister effort to “end the EPA” and expose the nation’s children to mercury. From President Obama’s “jobs” address to Congress in September:
What we can’t do — what I will not do — is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients. I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy. We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. America should be in a race to the top. And I believe we can win that race.
The administration’s attitude toward regulation is epitomized by the response the president gave in to a farmer at an event in Atkinson, Ill., who had expressed concern about the EPA’s plan to impose new regulations on farm dust. “Don’t always believe what you hear,” Obama told the farmer. The event was part of Obama’s August “listening tour” across the Midwest. And while it appears his administration is starting to wise up to the fact that its proposed regulations would be disastrous for small businesses, the president continues to denounce Republicans for doing nothing to help the economy. In fact, there are no less than 15 House-passed bipartisan bills awaiting action in the Senate, many of which are intended to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses.