Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Republican-propagated myth of “job-killing regulations.” Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much these days. But we do agree that Congress must do something about this nation’s unemployment crisis.
With 14 million Americans out of work, there is no more pressing issue facing Congress or the country.
Democrats’ plan to address this problem has been straightforward. We have advocated for policies that will create jobs by investing in what makes this country great – our infrastructure, our education system and our innovative workforce.
Despite Republican obstructionism, we have continued to fight for middle-class jobs, bringing to the Senate floor bill after bill designed to put Americans back to work.
Republicans have taken a different approach. They have advocated a wholesale repeal of so-called “job-killing regulations.”
They say rolling back everything from limits on air pollution to rules that keep our worksites safe will create jobs and revive our economy. The problem is, that’s just not true.
Business leaders and economists of every political stripe agree this GOP mantra is an utter falsehood.
A respected economic advisor to two Republican presidents called this myth – spread by Republicans to cover up their woeful lack of a plan to create jobs – “nonsense” and “made up.”
In fact, evidence show that government safeguards have little impact on employment.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that last year only three tenths of one percent of layoffs was caused by regulation. That’s according to the executives who ordered those layoffs.
Nearly 85 times as many jobs were lost last year because of a slow economy.
But rather than work with us to turn that weak economy around, Republicans have spent 11 months fighting Democratic policies that would have created millions of jobs.
Meanwhile, they’ve spent those 11 months focused on killing safety protections that cost a few thousand jobs a year while saving literally hundreds of thousands of lives.
For example, Republicans want to halt updates to the Clear Air Act. Since its passage 40 years ago, this law has reduced emission of key pollutants by 70 percent while the economy has grown by 200 percent.
Long-planned updates to the law would reduce emissions of mercury, acid gases and other life-threatening pollutants into the air, saving lives.
Last year alone, the Clear Air Act saved the lives of more than 160,000 Americans. It prevented 86,000 emergency room visits and 13 million lost work days.
The Clear Air Act has prevented hundreds of thousands of cases of heart disease, chronic bronchitis and asthma.
And last year alone it saved American companies and consumers $1.3 trillion by reducing medical costs and increasing productivity.
Of course, all these benefits come with a price tag. But for every dollar spent complying with the Clean Air Act, this nation saves $30 in emergency room bills, lost work days and environmental cleanup.
And repealing this law wouldn’t make the costs go away – instead it would shift them from corporations to consumers.
Complying with environmental safeguards is one of the costs of doing business in the United States. It’s part of being a good corporate citizen.
That’s why two-thirds of voters say scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency – not politicians in Congress – should set pollution standards.
Seventy-one percent of voters, including a majority of Republicans, support the stronger environmental protections under attack by Congressional Republicans.
Eighty percent of voters believe those safeguards will improve public health and air quality.
There’s plenty of evidence that smart, fair regulations save lives and save consumers money.
There’s plenty more evidence that stronger watchdogs could have prevented disasters like the 2008 financial crisis or the West Virginia mining accident that killed 29 people last year.
Simply repeating the fiction that regulations kill jobs doesn’t make it fact.
But even if there was an ounce of truth in the fable, there are many ways to steer our economy out of the ditch and create jobs that don’t risk American lives.