I guess we were supposed to be encouraged last week when the regulator-in-chief pulled out his plastic preschool scissors while promising to cut the government down to size. “The government we have is not the government we need,” Obama announced to a group of business owners at the White House on January 13, 2011. Obama promised he’d snip off a scant $3 billion over the next ten years — in exchange for just a little more power.
Given the increase in the size of government since Obama took office, he’ll need an earth mover to make any real difference. Next week he’ll be selling snake oil in the Rose Garden to reduce the deficit. There are many areas in government to cut, chief among them are excessive regulations, which are choking the life out of small businesses in this country. The Obama administration cannot be part of the problem and the solution at the same time.
Awhile back, my brother Pete decided to chase his version of the American dream. He did his homework; purchased quality used equipment via the internet, and signed a lease — in hopes of opening a small mom and pop style yogurt shop near Charleston, S.C. He’s a smart businessman, who tries to calculate his decisions carefully. Nonetheless, it wasn’t long before he found himself tangled in a web of regulatory red tape. He was told he needed to purchase environmentally friendly grease trap equipment, although no frying is involved in serving non-fat yogurt. It didn’t stop there. Additional environmental requirements like the installation of specialized wastewater drains, as well as tens of thousands of dollars for more unessential equipment, left him watching his hopes of the American dream go down the drain along with any hopes of hiring new people should his business succeed.
My brother is not alone; his experience has become all too common in the Obama administration’s new regulatory normal. South Carolina’s Nikki Haley said it best when she recently told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “I need a partner in the White House.” Haley claimed the hardest thing about her job had been the federal government intrusion into South Carolina’s business. Though she was a Tea Party favorite, Haley endorsed presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. She said Romney promised to keep the federal government out of South Carolina’s way, so it can create jobs.
My brother’s experience, along with the Department of Labor’s January 7, 2012 unemployment report showing an increase in unemployment by 24,000 over the last week makes it quite clear that increased regulation is making matters worse. Over-regulation has turned the country once hailed as the Land of Opportunity into a place where opportunity only happens in your dreams.
According to a July 25, 2011 Heritage Foundation article titled “Red Tape Rising: A 2011 Mid-Year Report,” the Obama administration has enacted “75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion.” Between October 1, 2010 and March 21, 2011, the administration completed 1827 “rulemaking proceedings,” environmental and otherwise, some of which will directly affect private sector start-ups.
The Heritage report found that Obama has outdone his predecessors in that “no other president has burdened businesses and individuals with a higher number and larger cost of regulations in a comparable time period.”
And the worst is yet to come when you look at the job-killing, business-quelling regulations under Obamacare’s 159 new government offices and programs; the EPA’s seven new environmental regulations that will cost businesses $38 billion annually, in addition to compliance costs of $100 billion; and the 2400-page Dodd-Frank bill the Harvard Business Law Review cites as “the most significant regulatory overhaul since the New Deal.”
The cost of overregulation is compounding exponentially, and in the process is destroying the Land of Opportunity, dream by dream.
But don’t just take my word for it; ask my brother.
Susan Stamper Brown is an opinion page columnist, motivational speaker and military advocate who writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture. Reach Susan at email@example.com, her Web site www.susanstamberbrown.com and Facebook.