An oft-quoted Ronald Reagan line from an address during his second administration goes like this:
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are
“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
— Ronald Reagan, Aug. 12, 1986
While the late President had a way with Hollywood one-liners that would garner a chuckle in a room of media types, no one laughed this time. And today, the US Chamber of Commerce and the business community in America isn’t laughing either.
Recently our federal government has been on a roll, and we all know what rolls downhill. The business sector, large and small, corporations and Mom and Pops are feeling the effects of all the “help” Uncle Sam has tried to feed us as the current Administration comes to a close. Here are just a few:
- The Environment Protection Agency‘s proposed new ozone rules will be the most expensive in history for businesses to comply with, the cost of that compliance will no doubt be passed on to consumers.
- The Department of Labor has proposed a new fiduciary rule that will significantly hurt the ability of many Americans to save for retirement, and potentially even completely cut them off from receiving investment advice. The proposed rule will also impose complex regulatory hurdles on financial advisors that would require significant, costly changes to their business models.
- And just this past Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board (an unelected five person regulatory panel) handed down one of its biggest decisions of President Obama’s tenure, ruling that companies can be held responsible for labor violations committed by their contractors. While the ruling from the independent agency specifically deals with the waste management firm Browning-Ferris, the so-called “joint employer” decision could have broad repercussions for the business world, particularly for franchise companies.
Opponents of the action warn the ruling could hurt businesses as diverse as restaurants, retailers, manufacturers and construction firms, as well as hotels, cleaning services and staffing agencies. Restaurants could see the biggest changes. Fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King will likely assert more authority over — or even cut ties altogether with — local franchise owners, business advocates say.
Let’s not forget our legislative and administrative branches that have failed to pass a long term transportation funding structure, failed to renew the Export-Import Bank, did not approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, and continues to ban the export of U.S. crude oil.
I’m not sure how much more government help the US economy can stand! We’ve become the land of the free and the home of the regulated.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for adequate and reasonable regulations in our society. But when the economy continues to sputter in nearly all sectors, why does passing and enforcing more regulations count as good for business? America’s business owners, retail shops, service industries, corporations and farmers are fully capable of complying with rules, even those that may be a bit over reaching.
Now if only the federal government (state and local, too) would just stop changing the rules all the time. Regulatory reform and regulatory certainty is sorely needed in our economy as much for the consumers as the businesses themselves.