The following post is from Randy Rabinowitz at The Fine Print, the Center for Effective Government blog.
Congratulations to Republicans on the House Small Business Committee for launching a new website that purportedly will alert small business owners to regulatory issues affecting them and make it easier for them to comment on pending rules. It would be a significant improvement to the regulatory process if small businesses actually weighed in themselves on the impacts of rules and also commented on the new markets that may be created for small business products and services as a result of standards and safeguards.
Too often, the only voices claiming to speak for small business in regulatory debates are inside-the-Beltway lobbyists for trade associations dominated or controlled by big corporate interests. It would be great if federal agencies received information directly from real small business owners, rather than repeatedly hearing the tired, anti-regulatory rhetoric of Big Business lobbyists who use the good name of small business to advance their agenda.
The headline for next week’s edition of The Economist is “Over-regulated America,” with the subtitle “The home of laissez faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written legislation.”
Sounds dramatic, but in reality the only things getting “suffocated” here are the facts about regulations. To be fair, this article does recognize (as few tend to do) that both parties in the U.S. are responsible for the growth of regulations — this is important to remember, but this falls short of achieving genuine balance given how consistently this piece goes on to misrepresent the relative weight of costs versus benefits of public oversight.
Take this passage, for example:
“A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee. It’s a wonder the jobless rate isn’t even higher than it is.”
Well, The Economist is right about one thing: it is a wonder that the jobless rate isn’t higher today — but that has a lot more to due with the fact that Congress seems physically incapable of passing the fiscal stimulus measures that we know are needed to make a real dent in the unemployment rate, and less to due with regulatory over-reaching.
A just-released survey of small business owners shows a vast majority do not consider regulations as a major concern. Instead, the survey shows weak demand is the primary problem for their business right now, not regulations.
Weak demand is small business owners’ biggest problem: 34% of respondents said weak demand is their biggest problem, while 15% cited the cost of health coverage and other benefits. Only 14% said it is the level of government regulation. The level of taxes came in fourth place with 12% and competition with larger companies garnered 10%.
Small business owners see regulations as a necessary part of a modern economy and believe they can live with them if they’re fair and reasonable: 86% of small business owners agree some regulation of business is necessary for a modern economy, and 93% of them agree their business can live with some regulation if it is fair, manageable and reasonable.