Wynn is right. The Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, Obamacare, and EPA energy efficiency mandates are regulatory boulders that block the economic growh plans of American businesses, both in terms of current profits and forgone opportunities. Economic growth and job creation have suffered as a result. Bad enough, yet making things much worse is the Obama administration’s refusal to lessen the regulatory burden in any significant way. In fact, it has been adding to it.
Some examples: The National Labor Relations Board has made it more difficult for employers to counter union organizing. The Department of Interior is setting up further roadblocks to energy production and resource extraction. The Federal Communications Commission is working to impose net neutrality rules. EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are pushing unrealistic auto fuel economy standards. The Agriculture Department is sticking its nose into railroad regulation. The Labor Department seeks to broaden the definition of fiduciary duty, thus increasing pension fund risk.
And in what may be the most absurd expansion of regulatory power, new Food and Drug Administration appointees began a crackdown on food producers, including Kellogg’s and Diamond Foods, for noting on their package labels that eating whole oat cereals or the omega 3 fatty acids in walnuts could lower cholesterol and provide other heart health benefits. Linking dietary nutrients with relevant and important health claims, Obama’s FDA argues, requires that the products be regulated as drugs rather than foods.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The burden is already great, yet still threatens to grow by leaps and bounds.
Regulations not only impact businesses, they also scare consumers by focusing on the risks, never on the benefits, of new products, services, and technologies. Consumers pay higher prices and have fewer choices. With all these costs and uncertainties, with fewer sales and less investment, is it any wonder that the recovery has stalled?
How do we find our way out of this? As we like to say at CEI, you do not have to teach the grass to grow, you just have to move the rocks off it. Entrepreneurs are eager to innovate, to start new businesses, to create wealth, and to hire people. All they need is for government to remove the regulatory rocks that are stopping them.