Its official–a supermajority think we’re over-regulated
And frankly, I think they’re right:
– There is little appetite among American voters for additional regulations coming out of Washington. Three quarters (74%) of voters throughout the country believe that businesses and consumers are over-regulated. Further, another two thirds (67%) believe that regulations have increased over the past few years. These percentages include majorities of all partisan affiliations, with 91% of Republicans, 75% of Independents and 58% of Democrats saying businesses/consumers are over-regulated.
Now you may argue that “over-regulation” may mean different things to different groups. However in each case the term “over” has specific meaning – it means there’s too much regulation. While they may argue about the degree of over-regulation, it appears that each and every group sees over-regulation in the same and proper light.
– A key fear among voters is that regulations will hinder job creation, as most believe the result of new regulation will be either job losses (47%) or increased prices for American made goods and services (22%).
Or both. You see, businesses will absorb only so much (job losses) before passing along the cost of regulatory compliance in the cost of their goods and services. We’re well past the first part in this recession. Businesses are about as lean and mean as they can stand to be and still function well. Additional regulatory cost, then, is likely to be passed on to consumers – another among many reasons consumer confidence is down.
– More than two thirds (70%) believe increasing the number of regulations on American businesses will result in more jobs moving overseas. Also, majorities agree that the increasing number of regulations have created uncertainty for large and small businesses (66%), and that agencies who enforce regulations fail to consider how their decisions lead to increased prices for consumers and job losses (69%).
All three of these beliefs among those polled is on the money. The amount of regulation is a key consideration for businesses when they assess a business climate. Their cost is calculated in the cost of doing business there. And when that cost is deemed to be too much or too unreasonable, businesses look around for a less costly place to establish themselves. We’ve seen this right here in the US as states with more regulation and higher taxes lose businesses to states that impose a less costly regime of taxes and regulations. They don’t call the Midwest the “Rust Belt” for nothing.
And those polled are right when they say they believe those who impose regulations “fail to consider how their decisions lead to increased prices for consumers and job losses”. But while regulators may not consider it, voters apparently do:
– One of the highest points of agreement in the survey is the fact that 73% concur that “every time the federal government mandates a new regulation on America’s large and small business, the prices of American made good and services like gasoline and food go up.” Only 22% supported the view that “while many federal regulations might be just another burden to operations of America’s large and small businesses, customers do not see major cost increases for American made goods and services like gasoline and food.”
In a study, The Small Business Association found that the regulatory burden on small business in this country was quite high:
The research finds that the cost of federal regulations totals $1.1 trillion; the cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is $7,647.
Under 20 employees is indeed a “small business” yet most would agree, $7,647 in compliance costs per employee is a lot of money. It is over $140,000 for the 20 employee firm. That money has to be made up somewhere, just to break even, much less turn a profit. And it is clear that depending on the type of firm and needs of the employer, any number of employees could be hired for that amount. And don’t forget, small businesses account for about 80% of the jobs in the US.
So it is clear that there’s a tremendous regulatory burden that has been placed on the businesses of America that most feel over-regulate them and cost jobs and increase prices.
There’s a move afoot within the Obama administration to cut regulation. That’s a good thing. But we have to remember, it’s the Obama administration where they usually talk the talk and never walk the walk. One way to get the economy moving is to lift some of the burdensome regulation and its related costs.
So who should be leading this charge? The executive branch. And, as the poll indicates, most voters don’t understand that it is at that branch the buck stops. But they are clear in what they want – much more consideration and an amended approval process before new regulations are imposed:
– Voters are simply unaware that Congress is not in a lead position with regard to regulation, as a majority say that Congress (52%) creates regulations. However, there is a strong desire for checks and balances in creating regulations, as two thirds (65%) favor requiring regulations be approved by Congress and the President before they are enforced. Voters do not want a regulatory process that takes away legislative duties reserved for Congress – just as they do not want judges legislating from the bench. This strong support for Congressional involvement is consistent across partisan groups, including among Democrats (67%), Republicans (65%) and Independents (64%).
Of course that would mean that most oppose the unilateral imposition of new regulation by the executive branch as we’ve seen during this administration.
All that is not to say that at some level, most Americans see some necessity for regulation:
– There are some positive connections to regulations, with solid majorities saying they are positively impacted by those that require certain safety levels for drinking water (72%) or require controls to ensure better safety at schools and in the workplace (66%).
But, not like this:
– When presented with a lengthy explanation of the Boeing case — where the federal government has filed a lawsuit over the their motivations for locating a new facility in the non-union state of South Carolina — fully 78% of voters side with Boeing in agreeing that a business should be able to open a facility in any state, and that the government should not be involve in the decision about where Boeing or any company locates new plants.
A very interesting poll, and one that needs to be in front of every politician and department executive in government. Back off, unchain the engine of prosperity and listen to the people. They’re pretty clear here in what they want. A less costly and intrusive regulatory regime and government out of places it doesn’t belong – like in the Boeing example.