Campaign Faces Business Regulation Issues
New issue arises between presidential candidates
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:09
As the campaign season heads into its final few weeks, the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business are working to make the anti-regulatory fervor their members share an issue for both presidential candidates.
The chamber and the manufacturers group have taken out issue ads saying the expense to business in complying with federal regulations is killing job creation. NFIB local affiliates are conducting tours and news conferences to let small business owners present their personal stories.
The effort, however, has had a more widespread impact. The Obama administration abandoned or delayed a multitude of regulatory proposals, such as cracking down on junk food at school bake sales, banning children from dangerous farm work and setting federal standards for disposing of toxic ash from coal-fired power plants.
John Toppel, Dean’s Executive Professor of Management, finds similar problems with increased regulation on business.
“We are in the ‘nanny state’ today and I think it is becoming worse,” said Toppel. “Whether it is mandated 24 inch kitchen appliance cords or mandatory carbon monoxide detectors, the regulations seem to be driven by financial interests of companies who support the regulation, or even write them.”
Responding to House Republicans’ steady equation of regulations with job losses, the administration ordered its own review of federal rules, guidelines and standards. Hundreds of them have been scrapped.
While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has promised in many campaign speeches to “get the government out of the way,” his only mention of regulations in his nomination acceptance speech was in a single paragraph.
He promised to “champion small businesses,” adding: “That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must reign in the skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare.”
Obama responded in two separate portions in his acceptance speech:
“After all that we’ve been through, I don’t believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker to keep his home. We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back.”
And: “Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick.
If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s just the price of progress. You know what? That’s not who we are. That’s not what this country’s about.”
Senior Josergio Zaragoza believes that regulating pollution and large corporations can benefit society.
Large corporations tend to pollute more, they are in more danger of using dangerous materials,” said Zaragoza. “Regulations allow corporations to follow the same guidelines and operate more effectively.”
Despite the endorsement lineup so far, the small business group’s senior vice president of public policy, Susan Eckerly, insisted it’s not a Republican campaign organization and said she’s certain there are plenty of Democrats in the organizations comprising the federation’s “sensible regulations” coalition.
The real issue here, proposed by Toppel, is not if regulations are good or bad, but rather the degree to which they exist.
“We just go overboard in one direction or the other with powerful advocacy from all directions and we lose the real value of a rule or regulation.The appropriate regulation falls victim to the battle of the opposing positions and the battle cry of it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Toppel.
A July poll by CBS and The New York Times found 49 percent of respondents said the federal government regulates business too much these days. Twenty-two percent said it regulates business too little and 19 percent said the right amount.
In a February 2011 poll, 45 percent of respondents said the government regulates business too much, while in February 2009, just 28 percent felt the government encroaches too much on business.
Contact Carolyn Entress at CEntress@scu.edu or call (408) 554-4849. The Associated Press contributed to this report.