by Jim Banks
When I travel across northeast Indiana and meet with Hoosier employers, I consistently hear the same thing: federal regulations are hindering the ability of businesses to grow and create jobs.
For the last eight years, federal government agencies largely focused on making life miserable for our nation’s job creators. Today, regulations are the biggest hindrance to economic growth, even more than taxes and the increasing cost of health care.
The Obama Administration added nearly 18,000 pages of new rules– the equivalent of 15 King James Bibles. The last five years have seen an average of 82 regulations enacted per year, each costing our economy more than $100 million. In total, federal regulations cost our economy $1.89 trillion every single year, which amounts to $15,000 for every American household.
Instead of creating new products and services that grow our economy and create jobs, small business owners now spend a significant amount of time filling out endless paperwork and dealing with mounting compliance costs. This is not an abstract problem. Every hour spent filling out forms is an hour not spent innovating. Every dollar spent on regulatory compliance is a dollar not used to hire new workers, increase wages or buy new equipment. Overbearing regulations are having real negative effects on the lives of Hoosiers.
It is long past time for the power of the administrative state be checked. Over the last few weeks, the House of Representatives has used the authority granted under the Congressional Review Act to roll back the worst excesses of federal agencies. These include:
The so-called “Stream Protection” rule, which would cost thousands of jobs, drastically increase compliance costs and severely harm the coal industry;
The “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers” rule, which would cost American energy producers millions of dollars to comply with rules that foreign competitors are not subject to;
The Bureau of Land Management’s burdensome Natural Gas waste rule, which dramatically increased the cost of energy production on federal lands in exchange for next to zero environmental benefit
The “Federal Acquisition Regulation” rule, which has imposed burdensome reporting requirements on contractors bidding for federal projects and, if left unchanged, will cost these companies more than $500,000,000;
The “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties and Resource Conservation” rule, which imposed duplicative and unnecessary rules for energy firms operating on federal lands;
The federal land grab by the Department of Interior;
A rule that infringed on second amendment rights of American citizens without just cause or due process;
Two rules expanding the federal role in education matters that are best left to states and localities;
Two rules providing favoritism to state-run IRA’s and crowding out private sector options for small businesses; and
A rule infringing on the right of states to ensure those on unemployment insurance are not using taxpayer dollars to buy drugs
I was happy to see President Trump sign the repeal of the “Stream Protection” rule into law, and I look forward to the Senate taking up the rest of these resolutions of disapproval and sending them to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
While removing some of the most glaring examples of federal overreach is necessary, it is not sufficient. Two of the first bills I voted for as a Member of Congress were the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act. The REINS Act would give Congress an up or down vote on regulations with an economic impact that exceeds $100 million. It also would increase federal accountability by giving the people, through their elected representatives, a voice in regulatory decisions that will have significant economic consequences. The Regulatory Accountability Act would require agencies to justify high impact rules, use the lowest-cost option when implementing rules, end the deference to agency interpretations of their own powers under statute and require a small business impact statement for new regulations. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, these two measures would provide much-needed relief and allow businesses to focus on what they do best.
No one denies the need for smart regulation or the federal government’s role in protecting its citizens from harm. We all want to ensure that basic safety and health standards are met.
Too often over the past eight years the Obama Administration moved far beyond this basic precept and worked to actively undermine job creators. It is long past time to reform the regulatory apparatus of Washington, and I look forward to being a positive part of that process.
U.S. REP. JIM BANKS represents the third congressional district in Indiana.