The quickest and most effective thing Congress and the Administration can do right now to help more Americans get back to work and to lower the continually high unemployment rate is to eliminate the countless burdensome regulations put forth by the Obama Administration over the last three years.
This year, as part of our plan to provide job growth in a sluggish economy, House Republicans have made a concerted effort to eliminate or to narrow the rules and regulations promulgated by the Administration. The fact is many businesses are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for regulations to be finalized before making any hiring decisions. Businesses are hesitant to hire new employees if they are unsure whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations will force them to shut down manufacturing plants, and they cannot hire employees if they are worried about how they will pay for their added health care costs. We can get businesses hiring again if we eliminate some of the burdensome rules dragging down the U.S. economy.
The first area in which Republicans have attempted to provide for job growth is by cutting back on the EPA’s extensive rules placed on businesses. Over the past several months, we have heard rhetoric from the other side of the aisle that Republicans want to roll back environmental regulations thirty years. But quite frankly, I would be happy if we even just rolled them back three years, over the course of which thousands of EPA rules have been proposed or finalized.
We began by passing a bill to require Congressional review of proposed federal regulations (H.Res. 72). Since then, House Republicans have passed countless other bills to limit the authority of the EPA. The Energy Tax Prevention Act (H.R. 910) prohibits the EPA from passing any regulation that considers greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change and repeals a dozen EPA rules to this effect. The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation, or TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401), requires the EPA to study and report on the economic impact, including how such a regulation would affect job growth, of any proposed regulations. During the past two weeks, we passed the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2681), EPA Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2250), and the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2273), which delay proposed EPA rules that by the EPA’s own estimates will cost businesses billions of dollars and result in thousands of lost jobs. A study by the American Forest and Paper Association concluded that the rules that would be delayed under H.R. 2250 put more than 20,000 forest industry jobs at risk – 18 percent of the entire workforce at U.S. pulp and paper mills. We need to take the heavy foot of the EPA off of the backs of American businesses and instead give companies an incentive to hire.
Aside from the EPA, Republicans have worked to roll back the onerous regulations related to last year’s Dodd-Frank legislation that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As part of the legislation, Senator Dick Durbin of New York added an amendment that gives the Federal Reserve the power to regulate debit card interchange fees, which are the fees paid by merchants to banks to use debit card services. Despite the banks insistence that limiting these interchange fees would force them to pass the costs on to consumers, the amendment passed, and the Federal Reserve subsequently took steps to limit the fees. This is yet another example of over-regulation that hurts Americans, instead of the free market principles on which our country is based. As many of you have probably seen, Bank of America was the first major bank to begin charging their bank customers $5 per month to use a debit card. I am a proud co-sponsor of H.R. 1081, the Consumers Payment System Protection Act, which would delay these interchange fees. Additionally, I have voted consistently for bills that rescind unobligated funding for the CFPB and provide more Congressional oversight of this new Bureau.
This isn’t about trying to undo everything the Administration has put forth or about damaging the environment for future generations. It is about jobs. Administrative rules from the EPA or Dodd-Frank might be well-intentioned, but they will hurt businesses and directly lead to job losses. We need to be doing the exact opposite – creating an environment that will lead to job growth by reducing the reach of government into the private sector. Businesses, especially small business, are in a tough spot. The economy is struggling to regain its footing, and these businesses are faced with making decisions without knowing the entire playing field. A business owner has to decide if he or she can hire a new employee or provide health care for a few. Larger companies refuse to hire anyone until the government makes up its mind on new regulations, deficit reduction, and a potential tax overhaul. Let’s eliminate the regulations that are forcing businesses to wait rather than hire, and put more Americans back to work today.