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Latham Report: To Grow Jobs, Cracking Down On Overregulation Is Essential


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Every day in Washington, armies of federal bureaucrats are drawing up new regulations that impact our economy. While some regulations serve a legitimate purpose by protecting consumers, others do little more than create uncertainty for hardworking taxpayers, farmers and small business owners. The simple truth is that these misguided regulations not only have a monetary cost but they also cost our economy jobs. If we want to put America back in business, one of the first things we must do is crack down on overregulation.

This issue is of critical importance because government regulations impact us nearly every time we engage in commerce. A misguided regulation at any step in the process runs the risk of making it more difficult to produce just about anything we buy, eventually driving up costs for consumers. Everything from groceries to prescription medications to utility bills can become more expensive if the wrong regulations are enacted.

Last year, the Obama administration proposed or enacted over 760 new major and complicated regulations, taking more than 75,000 pages of paper just to explain them. These new regulations cost the economy about $230 billion and created 120 million additional hours of annual paperwork requirements. These rules pile up year after year, and, although some are modified, they are rarely eliminated. It is such a large problem that the Gallup Small Business Index last October showed that small business owners ranked government regulation as the top problem facing their businesses. With an environment rife with such uncertainty tied up in government red tape, it's no wonder business owners are hesitant to begin hiring.

I have been working to reverse our government's direction of overregulation. Late last year I wrote and introduced the Regulatory Accountability and Economic Freedom Act. The legislation brings accountability to the regulatory process and helps to lift the uncertainty plaguing American families, farmers and small businesses. My legislation would require a cost-benefit analysis of all the available options before a federal agency can initiate any new regulation. It would also prevent agencies from overstepping their authority by requiring all major regulations to be approved by Congress and the president. Finally, the bill would get a handle on burdensome regulations already on the books through a Red Tape Reduction Commission that would review current rules.

The regulatory regime also strains farmers, who must conform to an array of government requirements and mandates. Earlier this year, for instance, the U.S. Department of Labor threatened to enact a regulation that jeopardized the ability of farm youth to work on operations owned by family members. Historically, family farms have been exempted from child labor rules, but the Department of Labor's updated rule would have threatened that exclusion for operations that are partly owned by extended family members such as grandparents, aunts or uncles.

I introduced bipartisan legislation that would have prevented any such regulation from being enacted, and the outcry among family farmers and agricultural groups forced the Department of Labor to back down from its proposal. However, there's no guarantee that executive agencies won't try a similar proposal in the future, so the full U.S. House of Representatives will consider my legislation this week as a means of blocking such misguided action down the road.

Intrusive and misguided federal regulations destroy jobs and slow economic recovery. I stand ready to work with any of my colleagues in Congress, regardless of political affiliation, who want to unleash American entrepreneurs and put us on a path toward a healthy economy.

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