Senate Democrats

Reid: Businesses, Economists Debunk Republican Myth Of Job-Killing Regulations

Republican Economist Says GOP Spreads the Falsehood Because It Has No Plan to Create Jobs

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:

It’s impossible to open a newspaper or watch cable news these days without hearing my Republican colleagues talk about the evils of “job-killing regulations.”

Each day they arrive on the Senate floor to rail against the safeguards that keep our water clean, our air fresh and our mines safe.

According to the GOP, those safeguards are actually the source of all this nation’s economic woes – these horrible, time consuming government regulations that hinder the economic progress of America.

The Republicans would have you believe that the common-sense rules that check the greed of Wall Street banks, keep huge corporations honest and stop Big Oil’s unnecessary risk taking are also causing small businesses great harm.

Indeed, that would be a terrible thing – that is, if it were true.

While it’s proper to guard against and remove onerous regulations, 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. That’s because there is none.

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 multinational corporations and moneyed interest groups.

And there’s plenty of evidence to prove that disasters like the BP oil spill and the financial crisis of 2008 could have been prevented by stronger government watchdogs.

But Republicans aren’t relying on evidence as they propagate the myth of the job-killing regulation. They’re relying on repetition.

Bruce Bartlett, an advisor to President Ronald Reagan and a Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, is a trusted, conservative voice on economics. He offered these strong words  on the regulation monster under Big Business’ bed:

“No hard evidence is offered for this claim; it is simply asserted as self-evident and repeated endlessly throughout the conservative echo chamber… In my opinion, regulatory uncertainty is a canard invented by Republicans that allows them to use current economic problems to pursue an agenda supported by the business community year in and year out. In other words, it is a simple case of political opportunism, not a serious effort to deal with high unemployment.”

But why use regulations proven to protect the health of every man, woman and child in this nation as a scapegoat? What are the origins of the myth?

I believe – as Bartlett does – that Republicans are attacking regulation because they don’t have a plan to create jobs and turn our economy around.

While Democrats have been pushing time-tested remedies for a flagging economy, such as infrastructure investments or middle-class tax cuts, our Republican colleagues have been peddling a cure-all tonic of deregulation.

Bartlett says, “People are increasingly concerned about unemployment, but Republicans have nothing to offer them.”

They’ve offered up the specter of overreaching government regulation to distract from the fact that they haven’t offered a single idea for how to put America back to work.

And they use the argument to justify rolling back everything from clear air and water safeguards to Wall Street and health insurance industry reforms.

What’s more, they’ve spread the tall tale that removing these regulations and letting Big Business do exactly as it pleases will not only prevent job losses, but actually create new jobs.

Bartlett called that logical leap “nonsense.”

“It’s just made up,” he said. So, let’s talk fact, not fiction.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which asks executives why they downsized, only a tiny fraction of layoffs have anything at all to do with tighter regulation.

Last year, only three tenths of one percent of people who lost their jobs were let go principally because of government regulation or intervention. On the other hand, a quarter of them were laid off because of lack of business.

And in a recent survey by the Small Business Majority, only 13% of small business owners cited regulation as their biggest concern. Half said economic uncertainty was their greatest challenge.

That’s why Democrats have been offering real solutions to our jobs crisis and policies that help small firms hire, grow and thrive again.

The truth is we have enough to worry about in these tough economic times.

We can’t allow the myth to distract us from the very real crisis of high unemployment facing this nation.