By Representative Scott DesJarlais
Two years ago, Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Vice President Joe Biden hit the airwaves to proclaim that the summer of 2010 would forever be known as "recovery summer". This media blitz was designed to tout the jobs that would be created by President Obama's $800 billion dollar stimulus package.
Flash-forward two years and we have now seen 42 months of unemployment above eight percent and a Gross Domestic Product that has slowed to a 1.5 percent growth rate. Clearly recovery summer failed to live up to its name.
It seems that the economic relief we are looking for still hasn't arrived. Unfortunately, the policies instituted by the president are compounding our economic woes. His approach of more government and more regulation is imposing enormous hurdles on the very people that we are counting on to lead the way to a more prosperous economic future -- the American businessman.
I have had an opportunity to meet with more than 40 businesses across Tennessee's Fourth Congressional District. It has been truly inspiring to speak with these innovative and determined individuals who, through hard work, have built successful businesses that employ numerous Tennesseans.
The message they ask me to take back to Washington is clear: government is stifling their ability to grow their businesses and create jobs by imposing an unmanageable network of bureaucratic red tape on them.
Just this year alone, the federal register -- where regulations are published -- has added 41,662 pages of new regulations. That amount of paperwork would take a combined 114.1 million hours to complete or over 13,000 years of working 24 hours a day.
Now certainly there is a need for responsible and common sense regulations to protect American workers and consumers, but Washington has created an environment where regulations are being used as a tool simply to expand government -- not to provide necessary safeguards.
There is a misconception that federal regulations mainly target large corporations with proven track records of abusing the public trust. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is small businesses that bear the brunt of overregulation.
A study by Nicole and Mark Crain on behalf of the Small Business Administration in 2010, estimated that the total annual cost of all federal regulations in the United States increased to more than $1.75 trillion in 2008. Another study from the SBA found that per employee, small business face regulatory costs 36 percent higher than large businesses. In fact, the SBA estimates that the annual costs of federal regulations per employee cost businesses with fewer than 20 employees around $10,585 per employee compared to $7,755 per employee for businesses with 500 or more workers. That same study goes on to say that it is now easier to start a business in Slovenia, Estonia and Hungary than the United States of America.
We already are running the risk of regulating our businesses into bankruptcy, yet the Obama administration wants to continue down this failed path.
Since taking the oath of office, President Obama has under review more than 400 regulations classified as economically significant. "Economically significant" regulations are those defined as any regulation "likely to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more". Out of these 400 regulations, 106 have already been implemented at a cost of $46 billion per year.
In response to the outcry from small business owners across our country, the United States House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would impose a freeze on the implementation of economically significant regulations until the unemployment rate falls to 6% or below. This is just one of the more than 30 House-passed jobs bills that are languishing in the Senate.
There is a bipartisan consensus that in these difficult times, the last thing that we need to be doing is unnecessarily hampering our nation's job creators. I hope that Senate Democrats and President Obama will recognize the seriousness of our economic situation and enact the House-passed jobs bills so that our nation can begin to experience a true economic recovery.