This month we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birthday of President Ronald Reagan. We not only celebrate his life, but also, and more importantly, the legacy he left to America and the world. Throughout his life, whether as an actor, spokesperson, governor, or President, he passionately pursued his vision for America, which was rooted in freedom, opportunity, and prosperity.
President Reagan understood the greatness of our nation lies in its people - not an overbearing government. He knew the hard work, resilience, and optimism of Americans would overcome any challenge we face.
America experiences similar challenges today as we did when President Reagan served: out-of-control spending, high unemployment, economic uncertainty, and international conflict. However, as President Reagan famously declared, "government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem."
Last week, the House of Representatives took an important step to undo the problems government has created. The House passed a resolution to identify and eliminate onerous government regulations which are stifling job creation and economic growth, and I was proud to support it.
As I travel across Nebraska's Third District, I hear repeatedly about the uncertain economic climate we face. Much of this uncertainty is created by costly, unnecessary regulatory burdens which prevent small businesses from hiring employees, expanding product lines, or investing in new technologies.
The Small Business Administration issued a report in September 2010 which estimated the average small business with less than 20 employees faces a cost of $10,585 in federal regulations each year per worker they employ. The same report tallied total regulatory costs to be $1.75 trillion annually, nearly twice as much as all individual income taxes collected last year.
Job-crushing regulations are at an unprecedented high. For too long, Congress has failed to implement legislative oversight and allowed agencies to ignore its Constitutional authority. Particularly, legislation such as the health care overhaul and sweeping financial reform empowered executive branch bureaucrats to legislate like never before. Within nine months of ObamaCare's passage, for example, the administration added 6,123 pages of regulations. To put that figure in context, those pages would stretch the length of nearly 19 football fields!
By contrast, President Reagan actively cut the size and scope of government regulation. For example, before Reagan assumed office federal regulations required consumers to use only equipment provided by their telephone service provider. As a result, consumers had little or no choice in the products they used. The Reagan Administration proceeded to eliminate unreasonable telecommunications regulations and break up the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T). In doing so, consumers were allowed to make choices which best meet their needs, not which the government thought best.
Moving forward, we must prevent federal agencies from enacting overly burdensome regulations on the American people, which is why I am co-sponsoring the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, or the REINS Act. The REINS Act requires Congress to affirmatively approve any new major rule proposed by the executive branch. Passing this legislation would provide much needed accountability and restraint in an era of out-of-control government.
As we continue working to solve the challenges we face, it is critical we continue championing solutions which reduce the size of government, promote free enterprise and empower individuals, just as President Reagan did. He knew these timeless ideals would ensure our nation remains a "shining city on a hill." I am confident these same foundations, which to succeed rely on the individual instead of the government, will build a stronger America in the 21st Century.
For more information about this issue, the latest developments from Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at www.adriansmith.house.gov.