CARSON CITY – A pair of Nevada small business owners yesterday said the federal government needs to ease off on its excessive regulatory efforts under the Obama administration if it wants to encourage job growth here and around the country.
Buddy Byrd, owner of Byrd Underground, a construction firm in Las Vegas, and Tim Wulf, owner of two Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in the Reno area, talked about their frustrations with what they say is regulatory overload.
The business owners were enlisted as part of a national effort by the National Federation of Independent Business to “Stop President Obama’s Regulatory Tidal Wave,” a new campaign aimed at stemming the flow of new rules from federal agencies ranging from the EPA to OSHA.
The NFIB says the next four years could bring hundreds of costly regulations for U.S. businesses and consumers, with nearly 4,100 federal regulations in the pipeline that are estimated to cost the national economy more than half a trillion dollars.
“We’re stepping up the attention to stop this tidal wave and we’ve actually created a new website, called stopthetidalwave.org, to highlight the high number of regulations that could wash over small business in the next four years,” said Nevada NFIB State Director Randi Thompson. “Because small business creates two-thirds of new jobs, we must remove major barriers to small business job creation, and reducing the regulatory burden is a major step. So in order to help Nevada small business and overall economic recovery, we need sensible, clear and fair regulations.”
Nevada leads the nation in the unemployment rate, and Thompson said a January Gallup poll found that 85 percent of small business owners were not hiring, with 46 percent citing government regulations as a reason for their decision.
Not everyone agrees that federal regulations are stifling job creation.
U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in November 2011 that there is no evidence to support the claim.
“My Republican friends have yet to produce a single shred of evidence that the regulations they hate so much do the broad economic harms they claim,” he said. “That’s because there aren’t any. Conversely there’s plenty of evidence to prove those regulations save lives, prevent asthma attacks and ensure mom and pops face a fair fight against these multinational corporations and monied interest groups.”
But Byrd said he owns heavy equipment that won’t be permitted to be used on government jobs beginning in 2014 if a proposed EPA rule restricting emissions takes effect. The new rule is forcing him to sell his current equipment to foreign countries and purchase new equipment that will meet the new standards. The old equipment will continue to operate and expel emissions, just not in the U.S., he said.
“It’s costing us a considerable amount of money; I can’t replace that equipment for what I sold it for and so therefore we’re suffering great loss here just to accommodate what they want to do,” Byrd said. “And they don’t have any consideration for the small business.
“We just can’t continue to go down this path and employ people and give them jobs when there is no profit after they regulate us and regulate us and regulate us,” he said.
Wulf expressed concern about OSHA regulations that are taking safety concerns to an extreme and unworkable level, such as instructions on how to avoid being hit in the head by a mop handle.
“Here is an employee of the government, taking my time to teach me some ridiculous thing that I’m supposed to then take time with every one of my employees; like I say, in and of itself it is just laughable. But it is the aggregate effect of all these regulations that just makes you go crazy.”
Some members of Congress are concerned about regulatory overload as well. The House yesterday passed H.R. 4078, the “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act,” which would impose a moratorium on the adoption of regulations between election day and the inauguration of the president. It would also place a freeze on new major regulations until the national unemployment rate falls to 6 percent or below.
The measure passed 245 to 172 on a mostly party-line vote with Republicans primarily in support. Nevada Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck, both R-Nev., supported the measure. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., voted no.