Debunking the “job-killing regulations” myth

Job-killing regulations. 

How many times have we heard this rhetoric from big businesses opposing new regulations while pretending that they are concerned about small businesses?  Yet polls of small business owners find that most understand the need for regulations.  

I outlined the results of one of these recent polls in an opinion editorial in The Hill.  The poll was conducted by Lake Research for three national business organizations, one of which is the American Sustainable Business Council (I serve as the Co-Chair of the Action Fund for the ASBC).  A summary of this poll is below.

But first, let’s look at how accurate the predictions have been of jobs to be lost from the passage of past “job-killing regulations”.

A new report released today by Public Citizen reviews 8 major regulations that have been implemented since the 1970’s.  Industry representatives directly impacted by these regulations predicted that if these regulations were put into effect, up to 55 million American jobs would be lost

These predictions included 1.5 million jobs to be lost due to requiring cars to get better fuel economy.  Up to 2 million jobs were predicted to be lost because of amendments to the Clean Air Act.  Forty-Three million jobs were supposed to be lost due to banning the use of lead in gasoline.  Public Citizen reviews these predictions and contrasts them with what really happened after each new regulation went into effect.   It’s a fun read.

Did we actually lose up to 55 million jobs due to these 8 regulations?  Of course not.  It is a frightening prediction.  But the 55 million predicted lost jobs is actually nearly 5 times greater than the current number of unemployed in this country, 11.3 million. 

Are there too many people unemployed in this country?  Of course.  Are these 11.3 million unemployed due to the 8 regulations (or any regulations) reviewed by Public Citizen? Absolutely not.

Yet the “job-killing regulations” fear mongering goes on today even though history has shown us that we should take these scare tactics with a mountain of salt.

Here is an excerpt from my opinion editorial on the small business owners poll on regulations that I mentioned above:
Contrary to anti-regulations rhetoric, 78 percent of small business owners see government standards as an important tool to level the playing field with big business and 86 percent view regulations as a necessary component of a modern economy: 93 percent agreed that their business could live with fair regulations and 78 percent agree that some standards are important to protect small businesses from unfair competition. Moreover, 76 percent said that regulations on the books should be enforced.

Small business owners express strong support for specific rules and standards:

•    84 percent support food safety standards
•    80 percent support product safety standards
•    80 percent support disclosure and regulation of toxic materials
•    79 percent support ensuring clean air and water
•    78 percent support rules to prevent health insurance companies from increasing rates excessively
•    67 percent support rules to curtail financial speculation by Wall Street and banks.
•    61 percent support moving the country towards energy efficiency and clean energy.

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