Back in the early part of this year, Barack Obama called all his friends to the White House in a desperate bid to pick their brains. You see, America doesn’t happen to be gaining jobs. Sure, there was the one jobs report that was kind of awesome because half the country felt so awful about the job market that they totally gave up and just claimed real estate for their cardboard box on the side of the highway, but otherwise, he’s been pretty awful at putting Americans back to work.
When they started this party, everyone was pretty happy with the Commander in Chief, patting him on the back, telling him he was doing a great job, tossing him little cookies when he did something right. But as time went on, it appears they soured. And as of yesterday, they were penning op-eds telling Obama that he needs to take a good hard look at how badly he’s destroying the American economy.
“Businesses adding jobs” is a headline every elected official loves to read. Sadly, it’s one that’s getting harder and harder to find because of a policy and regulatory landscape that makes it increasingly difficult for businesses to see why and where creating new jobs makes sense.
That’s especially true for me and my colleagues in the restaurant industry, who find ourselves facing a plate piled high with more and more federal, state and local regulations.
Regulatory mandates flowing from federal health care reform may be the most visible, but the list also includes measures such as new mandatory paid leave provisions that require us to change the way we accommodate employees who need to take time off when they are ill and ever more unrealistic requirements regarding employee meal and rest breaks that, in California for example, force our employees to take breaks in the middle of serving lunch or dinner.
The man who wrote this is the CEO of Darden – the company that brings you Red Lobster and the Olive Garden’s Endless Soup and Pasta Bowl – and since his restaurants are packed with people on Fridays and Saturdays, I’m going to assume he knows a thing or two about running and growing a business. Objectively, though, he’s correct, especially when it comes to small businesses. Government regulation will choke the life out of anyone, but if you’re a small business with only yourself and your own capital to rely on (and not an army of lawyers trying to get you out of every regulation Congress can throw at you), you’re dead in the water when the government gets involved. Obamacare is skyrocketing the cost of providing healthcare for employees, and regulatory compliance costs small businesses nearly $2400 per employee.
And that’s just right now. Congress has 4,200 new regulations on small businesses coming down the pipe – which will bring the grand total of regulations applying to small businesses to a whopping 165,000. In the past five years, as Small Business for Sensible Regulations points out, laws attempting to control small businesses have increased by 60%. Just this year, they increased by 18%.
It’s no wonder even his Democratic buddies are turning on him. Aside from the CEO of Darden, Democrat Blanche Lincoln (who has never been exactly a “friend” to anyone right of center), has been parading around Washington in recent weeks, trying desperately to get Democrats to understand that every regulation they pass has a distinct effect on small business, and about two thirds of the new jobs being created.
It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad.