By Representative Sam Graves
The Obama administration's relentless government expansion has become a disturbing pattern. Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) report today (October 23) is a devastating list of the president's failures and misplaced policies. The common thread is the drastic expansion of government's role, without being too picky about the means. The attitude seems to be that nothing can or should stand in the way of this big government agenda -- not the law, not the people's representatives, not the deliberative legislative process envisioned by our nation's founders.
As chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I follow closely the effect of these decisions on small businesses. Job creators are frozen by the Administration's tax and regulatory policies, and the fear of more.
If the president is content to ignore the law and the democratic process, small businesses are left at his whim with no backstop. And, yes, this is scary stuff for businesses already taking plenty of risks to make it in a bad economy. Time and again, the president has shown a lack of understanding of how businesses grow in the real world. His slip-ups occasionally expose his mindset. "The private sector is doing fine," he said, then tried to walk it back. He also told business owners "you didn't build that." Gaffes like these only matter because his actions so clearly back up that problematic worldview.
The Small Business Committee, with 80 hearings during this Congress, has heard from small business owners in great detail across a whole range of industries. They are facing paralyzing uncertainty, and the administration is directly responsible.
Taxes are a big part of the cloud of uncertainty looming over our job creators. In just two months, their taxes will go up -- massively. Most have been hoping Congress would fix it. And, the House of Representatives did vote to stop the tax hike -- a clear, undeniable action that would monumentally help small businesses. The Senate ignored it. Under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), they preferred having a wedge issue to a solution. The President proposes to raise taxes on 940,000 small businesses.
Regulations are another big part of the problem -- several of them are listed in the Majority Leader's report. Most regulations are well-intended; at least, we can give the administration the benefit of the doubt. But any benefit must be weighed against the cost -- something this administration fails to analyze or appreciate. And for small businesses, the costs of compliance are 36% greater than for large firms. Cumulatively, regulations and their associated costs are out of control. Small businesses have been buried the past four years, to appropriate a description from the vice president. This year alone, federal agencies have added more than 125.3 million annual paperwork burden hours and $230 billion in regulatory compliance costs.
Based on the record of the administration, small businesses can guess that more red tape is on the way. The National Federation of Independent Business has identified 4,100 potential regulations in the pipeline at a cost of $515 billion. The law requires the Federal agencies to reveal their regulatory plans twice a year, but since this administration is content to ignore the Regulatory Flexibility Act, these plans have not been offered, and small businesses are left to expect the worst. Planning for the worst does not entail investing, growing, or hiring. So, our economy remains stagnant.
Three surveys of small businesses (Chamber of Commerce, NFIB and Common Good) released this month all showed the same result: small businesses do not expect to hire next year. That calls for a change in Washington's ways and a major change from the Administration's entire mindset. The White House's claim that the president is helping small business is a talking point with no evidence to back it up.
We need leadership that makes small businesses a priority. They are our best job creators. That's a high value in this economy. We cannot continue expecting businesses to roll with endless punches and come back to hire again. They need certainty. Certainty that won't come if the president pursues a tax and regulatory agenda that knows no bounds and yields to no obstacle.
What the president fails to see is that the big government he is creating with reckless abandon is the obstacle to the economic growth we so desperately need. We need to get the government out of the way to allow job creators to lift the economy as they invest in their businesses again.