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Florida Voices: Excessive Regulation Hurts Florida’s Small Businesses

Monday, November 05, 2012

As we enter the last leg of the presidential campaigns, a lot of voters are still asking, “Where’s the beef?”  After three presidential debates – in which Big Bird seemed to generate more attention than talk about serious economic recovery – the candidates have yet to offer much reassurance to the small business community, and the saturated rhetoric from the trail has not quelled business owners’ concerns.

That is unfortunate.  Americans need definitive answers, backed up by action once in office, of how each side plans to get the US back on a path of recovery.  Some of the biggest problems derailing our nation from recovery are economic and political uncertainty created by failed policies in Washington and gridlock that prevents any real solutions.

As Executive Director of NFIB in Florida, I talk with business owners across Florida every day.  They largely share the same concern: an unreasonable spike in complex and costly regulations are cutting into their ability to run their businesses and creating serious uncertainty about what new policy or rule could come down the pike next.

A Morgan Stanley study found 40 percent of employers are not hiring because of economic uncertainty.  A separate Gallup poll found 85 percent of small businesses were not hiring, and half said regulations were the reason why.

Currently, there are more than 4,100 new regulations waiting to be approved in Washington.  Considering that over the last five years the number of major regulations has increased by 60 percent, the large backlog seems oddly fitting.  But if enacted, those rules could cost more than $500 billion, which would impact every sector of the economy.

Washington seems to be sending a pretty mixed message to the small business community these days.

Earlier this year the President himself recently told small business owners we are not responsible for building our businesses.  But what is even more frustrating is that regulators continue to draft new rules despite our concerns, often it seems with no regard for the practicality or applicability of these new rules or the impact they will have.

Get the barriers out of the way of our success and we will create the jobs this country needs. But small businesses cannot continue to shoulder more.

Instead of focusing on creating more rules, agencies should partner with the business community to formulate smarter policies, better enforce rules already in place, and revise those that do not move the country forward.

Like all Floridians, small business owners want to ensure the long-term beauty, strength and safety of our communities.  Small businesses are the cornerstone of growth; each year they create two-thirds of new jobs here at home.  In the right climate, they can, and will produce the jobs the U.S. needs, but they cannot do so if Washington continues on the same tired path.

As the old saying goes, there is still a political lifetime between now and the elections.  And for small business owners, Congress and the White House’s ability to sit down and address the looming regulatory tidal wave after Nov. 6 will be just as important and the results at the polls.

It is time to stop passing the blame, and address the regulatory culture in Washington.

Bill Herrle is the executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses/Florida.

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