By Chip Rogers, AAHOA President & CEO
In Taken to the Cleaners: A Case Study of the Overregulation of American Small Business, former environmental policy analyst Jonathan H. Adler wrote that “The cumulative effect of regulatory efforts is to depress economic activity, retard job creation and stifle the entrepreneurial spirit.”
If that sentiment sounds familiar, you might be an American small-business owner. If you’re among AAHOA’s first-generation members, you might even remember that report: it was published in 1993.
In the 23 years since, more than half a million rules have been added to the Federal Register. At least 15,000 of those rules had a direct impact on small business; according to Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr., policy director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “the number of rules with small-business impacts under Obama since 2010 has regularly exceeded 800.”
The regulatory state is indisputably and perhaps irrevocably oversized. The larger issue, however, and the even greater threat to American businesses, is that these regulations are created and unilaterally codified by the executive branch through either executive order or memorandum. They are never voted on and there is rarely, if ever, any opportunity for congressional commentary or review.
In fact, at the first Cabinet meeting of 2014, President Obama declared his intention to proceed without Congress, should its members prove unwilling to take legislative action on his top priorities. “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone,” he asserted, and he has made significant use of both: at the close of 2015, the Federal Register had sailed past the previous page-number record (81,405 in 2010) to a whopping 81,611.
And business owners can feel the walls closing in.
“The regulatory state has grown under this administration seemingly without regard to the costs, practicality or even legality of rules pushed through by federal agencies,” Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said earlier this year. “The president’s hurry-up approach of executive orders and rushed rulemakings is no way to govern a representative democracy.”
The upshot is that Congress’s role in governing has become largely reactive, virtually powerless to restrain an executive branch determined to upend the long-established structure of the federal government. Indeed, as Crews, Jr., said in Mapping Washington’s Lawlessness, “Our government’s branches seem not so much to check-and-balance as to leapfrog one another, to ratchet the growth of government upward rather than constrain it to a constitutionally limited role.”
As small-business owners and tax-paying, job-creating citizens, AAHOA members expect and deserve to have a voice in their government. The Obama Administration has repeatedly denied America’s job creators the opportunity to have their voices heard in the legislative process, opting instead to saddle them with the multibillion-dollar burden of imposing destructive, unwarranted regulations.
Eight years of gross regulatory overreach is eight years too many. Come November, please join me in supporting pro-business, anti-red tape candidates in both parties. Your livelihood, your business and the American tradition of unfettered entrepreneurism depend on it.