February 03, 2012

White House Declines to Put Anti-Regulation Measures in "Startup America" Legislative Agenda

The White House announced Tuesday a legislative agenda it is sending Congress as part of its Startup America initiative to foster the growth of new businesses.

The White House was under some pressure to do wrong here: the President’s “Jobs Council” – a group mostly of CEOs – issued a report last month that included a perhaps unsurprising pile of old anti-regulatory proposals. And Senators Mark Warner and Jerry Moran were pushing the White House to endorse their bill, the Startup Act, which includes anti-regulatory measures that would weaken our existing environmental, health, and safety laws.

But here’s a bit of good news: the White House didn’t include any anti-regulation measures in the Startup America legislative agenda. The document gives just a polite nod to Warner-Moran:

The Administration looks forward to working with sponsors of similar initiatives including S. 1965 (Warner-Moran), S. 1866 (Coons-Rubio), S. 1544 (Tester-Toomey), S. 1933 (Schumer-Toomey), S. 1970 (Merkley-Bennet), H.R. 2930 (McHenry), H.R. 1070 (Schweikert), as well as with leaders from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committees, including Chairwoman Landrieu, Senator Snowe, Chairman Graves and Representative Velazquez.

Too often this White House has tried to appease big business on the regulatory front, even adopting anti-regulation rhetoric. This has hurt, not helped, the White House politically. And it does nothing to create jobs. So it’s worth noting that the Administration got this one right.

A new poll out Wednesday shows that small business owners’ top concern is lack of demand (echoing previous polls). Weakening health and safety protections, on the other hand, is not popular with most of the electorate, and it hurts the public. Stalling the establishment of badly needed public safeguards and undermining federal agencies will not create new jobs. The Administration should keep that in mind, and resist pressure to endorse any anti-regulatory initiatives as it continues to work with Congress on these bills.

Rena Steinzor, Professor of Law, University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Bio.

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