Businesses Shouldn’t Have to Play Defense Against Federal Governmentby Representative Randy Hultgren
Posted on 2013-12-12
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Mr. HULTGREN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to draw attention to the regulatory
war being waged by this administration on American families,
individuals, small businesses, states, cities and towns.
The administration has developed a bad habit of making endless rules and regulations, with little regard for their negative effects on Americans.
From writing confusing tax forms, to mandating what type of water comes out of fire hydrants, the vast bureaucratic machine in Washington delights in determining how Americans should live and work.
The exponential increase of government rules and regulations poses a clear threat to our freedom, for instance, the freedom of individuals to start their own businesses and pursue the American Dream.
But there is a solution.
I have introduced H.R. 309, the Regulatory Sunset and Review Act of 2013, to break this terrible habit.
I believe that reforms are needed to halt this administration's practice of regulating beyond the intent of the laws we pass, and to reduce the burden these regulations place on Americans, especially American businesses.
Before talking more about the solution, allow me to more fully illustrate the problem and its impact on growing jobs and the economy.
Now, not all regulation is bad, and businesses are more than willing to follow commonsense regulations.
The U.S. Grade Standards for fruits and vegetables, for instance, makes sense for grocers by defining the quality standards for fresh produce.
If a dispute between buyer and seller arises, the standards can then determine who is at fault.
But many federal rules are duplicative, obsolete, unnecessary, conflicting or otherwise inconsistent.
An analysis by the Government Accounting Office found that in fiscal year 2013, $95 billion of the $3.6 trillion the federal government spent was duplicative.
For instance, according to the GAO report, there are 76 federal drug abuse and prevention treatment programs, spread among an astounding 17 different agencies.
Combined, they generate 6.1 million hours of paperwork, almost $300 million in costs, and 122 forms to be filled out by individuals, organizations and businesses.
This is an unacceptable waste of tax money and resources.
The engine of our economy--our small businesses--need room to innovate and expand.
But burdensome and duplicative regulations drain resources from businesses--harming their ability hire new workers and create jobs.
In Illinois' 14th District, business owners tell me this is the chief block to investing and hiring.
When it costs them more than $10,500 per employee annually to comply with all federal regulations, their concerns make sense.
But in 2012, the Obama administration piled on $236 billion in new regulations.
It's a little wonder we suffer from weak economic growth and still- too-high unemployment.
President Obama has pledged a comprehensive review of existing regulations.
But unfortunately, his administration has actually done little to get rid of regulations currently on the books.
In fact, he's going to be adding many more next year.
According to an American Action Forum report, upcoming regulations from the Obama administration in 2014 could cost the private sector more than $143 billion.
That's billion with a ``b.'' [[Page E1865]] The administration calls this the ``unified agenda,'' which includes 15 new ``major'' rules--those that cost at least $100 million annually to our economy.
It's these ``major'' rules that my bill addresses directly.
How does it actually work? The bill establishes a responsible process for federal agencies to identify, review, and, if necessary, put major regulations that are no longer needed and serve no beneficial purpose on a path to elimination.
And I want to make sure the public--who are directly affected by bad regulations--have a say.
Under my bill, agencies overseeing these major rules will be required to consider the comments of the public, the regulated community, and Congress with regard to the costs and burdens of rules under review.
This will help them determine which rules need to go.
The agencies would then establish a review process to ``sunset'' bad rules.
The head of each agency would designate an existing employee as the Regulatory Review Officer, charged with implementing the sunset review.
Six months later, the Administrator would publish a first list of major rules, and then an updated list annually.
The agency would be charged with issuing reports to Congress about rules they reviewed.
But some rules are still bad for individuals and businesses even if they fall under the $100 million cost.
The public and congressional committees would be able to petition agencies to review these rules as well.
This would ensure less-major, but no-less-harmful, regulations could be considered for elimination.
And if an agency claims it cannot change or get rid of a regulation because it is bound by congressional statute, then they would have to recommend to Congress what we can do to change the law.
This ensures a transparent review process that leads to actual regulatory reform.
We must act now to lend a hand to our struggling economy.
Federal agencies, mostly unaccountable to the people they regulate, should review and remove regulations that hurt American businesses and individuals.
My bill exposes duplicative and obsolete regulations to the public, placing them on a path to elimination.
My colleagues are hearing from their constituents about the harm excessive regulations are having on them.
And the Regulatory Sunset and Review Act of 2013 now has 61 co- sponsors.
We're seeing a real desire to put regulations under closer scrutiny than they've traditionally had.
Mr. Speaker, our job creators need all the help they can get.
Small businesses and startups should spend their time hiring workers and growing their business, instead of wasting time playing defense against an aggressive federal government.
Let's defend and extend the sphere of freedom, freedom to pursue the American Dream without government on your back.
H.R. 309 gets us heading in that direction.
I urge the House to take up this legislation in the New Year.