President Obama and Congressional Democrats have shifted into full campaign mode, using every taxpayer funded campaign stop to raise money and continue their efforts to incite class warfare around the country. While these intentionally divisive methods seem at odds with the president’s 2008 message of “hope and change,” it makes sense when you consider that the full effect of their legislative performance is only now becoming clear.
The shortfalls of the Affordable Care Act, dubbed by politicos and the media as “ObamaCare”, have already been well documented; the legislation could be struck down by the Supreme Court later this year.
However, almost simultaneously, came the “shock and awe” from members of Congress who muscled through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Thi is a piece of legislation that reconfigured the financial industry with the same broad strokes they used on ObamaCare.
Playing off lingering resentment toward Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, Democrats developed legislation that read like a progressive’s wish list of how to fundamentally change Wall Street.
Despite repeated warnings from Republicans -- in both chambers -- the legislation sailed through and passed along party lines. Dodd-Frank is a vastly transformative effort that did everything from regulate credit cards to create a new government agency (the deeply controversial Consumer Finance Protection Bureau).
In fact, even before new regulations were unveiled, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Dodd-Frank would slap $27 billion in new fees on American businesses.
Unfortunately, increased fees were only the beginning of the surprises Dodd-Frank had in store for job creators.
Nancy Pelosi’s famous quote attributed to ObamaCare, that “it will have to pass before we know what’s in it” turned out to be the case for Dodd-Frank, too.
Dodd-Frank calls for some 400 new regulations on job creators; to date only 185 have been written, however small business owners and their employees have spent over 24 million man-hours just trying to comply, with no relief in sight.
According to the Heritage Foundation, federal regulations cost taxpayers some $1.75 trillion dollars each year; more importantly, increased red tape kills jobs and productivity better used to put our friends and neighbors back to work.
The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Congressman Randy Neugebauer, estimates that it will take more time for employees to comply with these regulations than it did to build the Panama Canal.
While the Canal stood as a monument to American’s triumph over nature, Dodd-Frank seems to be a monument to Washington bureaucrats’ triumph over small business. Moreover, despite 3,000 new government jobs and nearly $1.25 billion in new spending for implementation of the plan, regulators admit nothing in the 2,300 page bill could have prevented the failure of MF Global – a glaring omission to say the least.
To be clear, the economic meltdown of 2008 indicated that reforms to the financial systems were needed. Several Republicans such as Congressmen Jeb Hensarling, Scott Garrett and Tom Price developed plans to fix the problem without choking the economic recovery with undue government regulation. However, in their rush to capitalize on the populist sentiment they foment even today, Congressional Democrats ignored any suggestions from the minority party and passed a deeply flawed bill that is already manifesting real problem for working families.
Instead of forcing Americans to navigate a tidal wave of government regulation, the president and Senate Democrats should re-evaluate Dodd-Frank. They should try to work hand in hand with House Republicans and economic leaders to develop common sense reforms that provide businesses with the chance to create jobs, while providing the kind of oversight that creates opportunity, not more new regulations.
Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee have built a tracker to monitor the burden created by each new Dodd-Frank regulation, each one a drain on capitol and ingenuity that hold the key to ending the economic slowdown. The lesson of the last four years is apparent: no amount of government intervention can replace the job creating ability of small business.
We must end the tsunami of red tape that is drowning American ingenuity and capital if we ever hope to have our economy emerge intact.
Joe Brettell is a former Capitol Hill Press Secretary who currently serves as a GOP consultant.