segunda-feira, setembro 26, 2011
The Economy Needs a Regulation Time-Out
By SUSAN COLLINS, WSJ
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to a company that sells packaged walnuts. Believe it or not, the federal government claimed the walnuts were being marketed as a drug. So Washington ordered the company to stop telling consumers about the health benefits of walnuts.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule on fossil-fuel emissions from boilers that—by the EPA's own admission—would cost the private sector billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. The owner of a small business in Maine told me the proposed rule would require him to scrap a new, $300,000 wood waste boiler he recently installed.
No wonder America's employers dread what is coming next out of Washington. Our country cannot afford regulations run amok at a time when no net new jobs are created and unemployment remains above 9%. But at least we're safe from health claims about walnuts.
America's overregulation problem is only getting worse. Right now, federal agencies are at work on more than 4,200 rules, 845 of which affect small businesses, the engine of job creation in our country. More than 100 are major rules, with an economic impact of more than $100 million each.
No business owner I know questions the legitimate role of limited government in protecting our health and safety. Too often, however, our small businesses are buried under a mountain of paperwork that drives up costs, prevents the hiring of workers, and impedes economic growth.
Business owners are reluctant to create jobs today when they're going to need to pay more tomorrow to comply with onerous new regulations. That's what employers mean when they say that uncertainty generated by Washington is a big wet blanket on our economy.
I have asked employers in my state what it would take to help them add jobs. No matter their business or the size of their work force, they tell me that Washington must stop imposing crushing new regulations.
America needs a "time-out" from the regulations that discourage job creation and hurt our economy. I have introduced legislation to impose a one-year moratorium on any "significant" new rules that would have an adverse impact on jobs, the economy, or America's international competitiveness. A one-year moratorium on such regulations is a common-sense solution that would help create jobs.
Under my bill, certain rules would be exempt from the moratorium: those that are needed in emergencies, such as to respond to imminent threats to public health or safety, and those affecting crime, the military and foreign affairs. My bill also excludes rules that would reduce the regulatory burden on the private sector. Unfortunately, those rules that actually reduce regulatory burdens and promote jobs are few and far between.
That EPA rule on boilers is a good example of why we need a regulatory time-out. According to a recent study by the American Forest & Paper Association, if the rule went into effect as written it could, along with other pending regulations, cause 36 American pulp and paper mills to close. That would put more than 20,000 Americans out of work—18% of that industry's work force.
Once those mills close, the businesses that supply them also would be forced to lay off workers. Estimates are that nearly 90,000 Americans would lose their jobs, and wages would drop by $4 billion—just because of over-regulation.
But even that is not the end of the story. People and businesses would still need paper. Where do you think we would get it? We'd be strengthening the economies of other countries like China, India and Brazil, while weakening our own.
American businesses need pro-growth economic policies that will end the uncertainty and kick-start hiring and investment. American workers need policies that will get them off the sidelines and back on the job.
In sports, time-outs are called to give athletes a chance to catch their breaths and make better decisions about the next play. American workers and businesses are the athletes in a global competition that we must win. They need a time-out from excessive regulation so that America can get back to work.
Ms. Collins is a Republican senator from Maine.