Column: Minnesotans feeling the clamp of regulatory burdens
Many Minnesotans looking for jobs and employers who would like to add to their workforce are feeling hamstrung by threats of higher taxes, more spending and new regulatory burdens from Washington. For far too long, I have been hearing from job creators, workers and too many frustrated unemployed men and women who want to know how we can get America working again. They want to see positive solutions that put the nation's fiscal house in order and remove Washington's regulatory roadblocks to job creation.
We can all agree there are reasonable regulations that protect our children and the environment, but far too many excessive regulations unnecessarily increase costs for consumers and small businesses, making it harder for the private sector to create jobs. Last week, I led a regulations tour throughout Minnesota's 2nd District where I enjoyed touring, meeting with, and hearing from Minnesota workers, farmers and businesses hurt by ongoing and proposed job-killing regulations.
Minnesota farmers and ag producers shared with me their concerns regarding federal regulations including the Environmental Protection Agency's plans to increase regulations of dust, which would affect anyone who uses a combine or drives on a gravel road. As they expressed to me, increased regulations of dust would greatly restrict economic development and growth and would be incredibly detrimental to the farming industry.
Another stop on the tour was a cement and ready-mix plant at which I visited with workers and managers. Although the cement industry is already one of the most over-regulated industries in the United States, the EPA is proposing seven new over-reaching rules which would severely hinder the industry nationwide. Studies show the EPA's proposed rules would force the industry to shut down 18 plants (11 percent of production), cost $3.4 billion over three years (half the industry's annual revenues) and directly destroy 4,000 jobs.
During my visit to a local engineering small business, I heard concerns regarding the federal government's over-reach in areas ranging from the National Labor Relations Board to the new health care law commonly referred to as "ObamaCare." This small business is a subcontractor to more than 100 airlines around the globe, including Boeing. After Boeing spent $1 billion building a plant and hiring thousands of workers in South Carolina, the NLRB sought to force the transfer of work to a unionized facility in Washington state. If successful, the NLRB's action could destroy thousands of South Carolina jobs and is already having a chilling effect on the job creators across the country. When sharing thoughts of the federal government's increasingly intrusive footprint into the private sector, the small business owner said, "I have to watch my back so I don't get shot in the butt."
Another small business I visited is feeling the direct effects of a Department of Energy rule that will virtually eliminate from the market a highly sought-after product it manufactures. As a result of the DoE's ruling, thousands of U.S.-based jobs related to the manufacturing, distribution and sale of these products could be eliminated - including jobs right here in the 2nd district.
These egregious attempts by federal agencies to regulate everything from farm dust to restricting where an employer can create jobs in the United States is crippling Minnesota job creators and entrepreneurs from coast to coast - and the resulting uncertainty is growing at an alarming pace. The Obama administration has publicly listed 219 new regulatory actions under consideration for the upcoming year, each of which would have an estimated cost to our economy of $100 million or more. In response to a request by House Republicans, the President revealed that seven of these regulations would have an estimated economic cost of $1 billion each.
This year, one of our guiding principles in the U.S. House of Representatives is ensuring our governing agenda focuses on removing government barriers to private-sector job creation. I am pleased to have introduced legislation that would repeal or stop these excessive regulatory grabs. In the case against Boeing, I championed legislation that recently passed the House which would prevent the NLRB from dictating where a private business can and cannot create jobs. Unfortunately, like 15 other jobs bills passed by the House this year, this important legislation sits dormant in the U.S. Senate.
Washington cannot lose sight of the fact that we must work together on behalf of the Americans we serve, including the 15 million unemployed who get up each morning wondering if this is the day they will at long last be hired. We must remember that unemployment knows no partisan boundaries, and we should be willing to consider a variety of solutions.
The job creators and workers could not have made their points any clearer during my regulations tour: Small business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers and ag producers don't need Washington to tell them how to succeed and create jobs. They need the President and Congress to get out of the way and give them the freedom to succeed.