From ABA President & CEO Robb MacKie:
Typically Washington is a ghost town in August as Congress and the president depart for the far reaches of the country. The professional D.C. infrastructure also takes a breather. This year, however, was a little different.
August began with the showdown over spending cuts that should accompany an increase in the federal debt ceiling. Then President Obama boarded brand new tour buses on a jobs tour of Midwestern states. The more the president gets away from Washington to listen to real businesses and families the better. However, the optics of riding around the countryside in a million dollar bus made in Canada completely trampled his message.
A short exchange during the president’s bus trip warrants examination. An Illinois farmer asked about proposed EPA regulations that would, in his opinion, make it extremely difficult to continue farming in a cost-effective manner. The president quipped that he shouldn’t “believe everything he hears and if he has a problem call USDA.” While I can’t speak to the specifics of the regulation in question, the exchange highlights the major disconnect between the administration’s express desire to create jobs and a regulatory agenda that is significantly hindering job creation.
Just a quick review of the number of regulations in the pipeline exceeds 1,100. These include proposals from agencies such as the EPA, OSHA, FDA, HHS, DOL, NLRB and even the SEC. Not all of these directly impact bakers, but 18 percent could potentially impact bakers. We know at least 52 food safety regulations will impact the industry, and no matter how important or well intentioned, they all will add additional costs to bakers, their suppliers and – most important – their customers. The sheer magnitude of this regulatory avalanche causes tremendous anxiety among bakers and suppliers, especially smaller companies that may not have the staff or resources to meet the onslaught.
Over the summer, I visited with a number of ABA members (in a Kia rental, if you were wondering). Every single person I met mentioned the regulatory agenda as a major deterrent to expanding their businesses and drain on their bottom line. One long time and extremely patriotic supplier member asked whether anyone in Washington realized that each regulation adds a little bit more incentive to relocate outside the country.
As President Obama and Congress return to Washington to tackle the economic challenges our country and the world face, it is my hope that Washington implements a two-year moratorium on all new regulations. As unrealistic as that may be, it would go a long way toward alleviating the current anxiety among bakers and other businesses.