Columns

The Price Tag of Federal Regulation

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Washington, January 20, 2017 | Beth Breeding (202-225-5431) | comments
Just about everything comes with a price tag: a gallon of gas, a cheeseburger for lunch, or a home for your family. The same goes for regulations passed down by the federal government. All regulations come with a price tag and hardworking Americans, as well as businesses large and small, must cover those costs. In fact, the cost of federal regulations clocks in at nearly $1.9 trillion annually.

As more regulations add up, prices for goods and services increase, job opportunities and wages decrease, and our country as a whole becomes less competitive. Small businesses in Virginia that could hire more employees instead have to spend that money on complying with whatever the federal government mandates next. In the waning days of the Obama Administration, there was no sign of slowing down the regulatory blitz on America’s economy. Since January 1, 134 final regulations have been issued by the Obama Administration – including 82 in the last week alone. That equates to roughly one regulation every two hours. Of the new regulations finalized in 2017, 27 have affected small businesses and five have costs of $100 million or more.

Regulations play an important role in protecting our communities. We can have new federal regulations, but they need to make sense, and they need to take into account the impact on consumers and industries. The Obama Administration’s attempt over the last eight years to regulate the economy back to prosperity was the wrong approach. The tangled web of red tape is proof that Congress must curb today’s runaway regulatory state.

In the new 115th Congress, the House has already passed a series of bills to ease the regulatory burden on workers, families, small businesses, and the economy. The Regulatory Accountability Act, which I introduced, is made up of six bipartisan bills. The heart of this legislation restores to the people the right to be heard by Washington’s regulators. It requires agencies to execute the laws passed by Congress in the least costly way, and with better public input, to find the most efficient regulatory solutions that benefit Americans. Under the Regulatory Accountability Act, agencies must take into account the impacts of new regulations on small businesses. This will help promote freedom and flexibility for small businesses, which create the lion’s share of new jobs in this country. It’s also important that the American people understand what regulations propose to do. That’s why the bill includes a provision to require regulators to publish a 100-word summary of the regulation online, in plain English.

There is a better way to create a regulatory system that works for the American economy, and the Regulatory Accountability Act is that solution. This bill will give the Trump Administration the tools needed to push back against abusive regulations. I urge the Senate to act quickly to send it to the President’s desk. With the help of these reforms, we can truly make America more competitive, put Americans back to work, and free America’s entrepreneurs to innovate.
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