There’s been a lot of finger pointing about who’s to blame for why the country continues to experience dismal economic growth. Last week’s jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offered a bit of good news at long last, but a bit of good news is a lot less than we need to create long-term recovery.
The National Federation of Independent Business’ monthly Small Business Optimism Index for September was also released this week, indicating another month of low expectations and pessimism for the small-business community. Small-business owners are reporting that the political climate is a major reason not to expand — second only to the economy. Business owners are in maintenance mode, spending only where necessary and not hiring, expanding or ordering more inventories until the future becomes more certain, making this election critical for small businesses.
In the first of the presidential debates, we heard each candidate indicate that one of their major priorities is the needs of small business. The number of times small business was mentioned in the debate underscores how important independent business owners are in this election and to our country’s economy. So we need definitive answers, backed up by action, of how each candidate plans to get us back on a path of recovery.
On Thursday, President Obama plans to be in Coral Gables, and his trip will provide an opportunity to tackle these issues.
One of the biggest problems derailing our economy is reckless regulatory policy coming out of Washington. As the Executive Director of NFIB/Florida, I spend a lot of time with our state’s small-business owners, and I’ve witnessed one of their biggest challenges: an unreasonable spike in complex and costly regulations that cut into their ability to run their business, creating deep uncertainty. They don’t know what new policy or rule could come down the pike next, making it impossible to plan or expand.
Today, there are more than 4,100 new regulations waiting to be approved in Washington. Considering that over the last five years the number of major regulations has increased by 60 percent, the large cache seems perversely fitting. But if enacted, those rules could cost more than $500 billion, which would impact every sector of the economy. Here in Florida, nearly one-million jobs stand to be lost.
Washington has been quick to voice support for the small business community, but its commitment often seems disingenuous. What’s equally frustrating is that regulators continue to draft new rules despite the current concerns of the small-business community. These new regulations are often considered with no regard for their practicality or applicability or the impact they’ll have.
Small-business owners need a president who will get the barriers out of their way so that they can create the jobs this country needs. And they can’t continue to shoulder more burdens. The impending regulatory flood has real consequences. Small businesses are the cornerstone of growth; each year they create two-thirds of new jobs here at home. In the right climate, they can, and will, produce the jobs the U.S. needs, but can’t do so if Washington continues on the same tired path.
In August, NFIB’s coalition Small Businesses for Sensible Regulation launched a new campaign to address the regulatory threat facing the business community — StoptheTidalWave.org. Amplifying small business voices, the effort urges policymakers to restore balance to the regulatory process. Instead of only focusing on creating more rules, agencies should partner with business owners to formulate smarter policies, better enforce rules already in place, and revise those that don’t move the country forward.
With the presidential election only four weeks away, I urge the president to use his trip through Florida this week to directly outline how he’ll rein in the regulatory system if given four more years in office.
Bill Herrle is Florida state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.