Editor's note: This week former Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., is providing the question. She is now national chair of the Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations group.
How can President Obama and Congress balance new regulations coming out of the Environmental Protection Agency with a still-weak economy?
This month, EPA is expected to announce a new standard for ground-level ozone (smog) two years before its regular five-year review. Critics of the proposed revision note that many counties are still working to comply with the current standard issued in 2008 and also say the new rule will yield a relatively small benefit when compared to the $19 billion to $90 billion that the rule is expected to cost the economy by EPA's own estimates. Supporters of the revision, meanwhile, are urging the administration forward under the banner of public health.
With such high stakes, the proposed ozone standard has garnered a great deal of attention over the past several months. But there are many other pending federal regulations (over 4,200) in the pipeline, and each deserves a similar degree of scrutiny to ensure these rules aren't doing more harm than good.
While some federal regulations are important, it costs the U.S. economy a staggering $1.75 trillion a year to comply with them, according to a report commissioned by the Small Business Administration last September. Small businesses bear the brunt of these compliance costs, spending an average $10,585 per employee, which is 36 percent more than larger firms pay. Compliance with environmental regulations costs small firms 364 percent more than larger businesses, and tax compliance costs 206 percent more.
While the debate surrounding the debt ceiling has subsided, the uncertainty that plagues the American economy has not. The federal government continues to be the source of much of the very uncertainty that haunts entrepreneurs, small businesspeople, state and local governments, and the economy in general.
In a struggling economy, wouldn't the American people be better served with regulators enforcing regulations currently on the books instead of initiating a flood of costly new rules and requirements? How can Congress and the administration sensibly balance an effective regulatory structure with the urgent need to create and maintain jobs and help our nation's economy get back on stable ground?