Sponsored by NFIB — The Voice of Small Business

Setting the Record Straight

Friday, 1 June 2012

Recently, Bloomberg News published an article, “The Truth About Uncertainty Is That It’s (Mostly) Untrue.”  The editorial argued the Obama Administration’s monetary and regulatory policies haven’t harmed job creation or business owners any more than those of its predecessors.  Certainly regulatory burdens are a problem that have been brewing for a number of years, but any small business owner can attest that keeping up with the bulk and complexity of regulations coming down the pipeline today make investing or hiring nearly impossible.

Our coalition members, small business owners across the country, tell us time and again what numerous studies have found – that government regulations are the biggest challenge facing small business today.  In May, about 200 small business owners met in Washington, DC, to participate in the NFIB Small Business Summit.  There they met with Members of Congress and influential policymakers to raise their concerns.  In an interview, Allen Batts, owner of Best Connections in Reno, NV, voiced the worry of most business owners when he noted that the unpredictability of what could come next prevents him from confidently making forward-looking decisions.

These concerns are pervasive throughout the small business community. A Gallup poll earlier this year found 85 percent of small businesses weren’t hiring, and about half cited regulations as the reason why.  Similarly, a Harvard Business School study, which surveyed about 10,000 alumni, revealed a majority of respondents thought tax and regulatory burdens were the biggest problem facing US competitiveness.

The Bloomberg editorial also compares the number of regulations passed under President Obama and President Bush.  It only hints at the fact that many of the regulations under President Obama are bundled into legislation like the Dodd-Frank bill and the President’s healthcare plan, and many won’t hit for years to come.  For small businesses, those looming rules only creates more uncertainty.

Additionally, Susan Dudley, Director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, recently raised concerns about the measurements behind how the costs and benefits of regulations are calculated under the current Administration.  In a piece for the National Journal she highlights that regulators factor in possible secondary effects when estimating the benefits of new regulations, but they don’t do the same for the costs.  As a result, analysis tends to exaggerate the value of new rules.

The reality, one that can be heard talking with any small business on Main Street, is that business owners are struggling to keep up with the slew of complex regulations.  Too often it jeopardizes their ability to keep their doors open. To give them the break they need, and to get our economy back on a path of recovery, we need to restore balance to the regulatory process, and focus on creating smarter, more effective regulations, not simply more regulations.