Each time a federal law is passed, detailed regulations that outline how that law will be implemented are issued by the relevant agencies, but that often takes a great deal of time.
Potentially massive sets of regulations are now pending for both President Obama’s health care law and the Dodd-Frank Act – described as the biggest overhaul to the American financial regulatory system in history. And whatever they think of the laws themselves, American business owners remain stuck in regulatory limbo while thousands of pages of new rules are produced.
“The worst part of all is that there’s this gigantic uncertainty that is lingering,” said economist Veronique de Rugy of the conservative Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
De Rugy points back to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a more modest financial regulation overhaul that was enacted in 2002 in the wake of the Enron and Tyco corporate accounting scandals. She notes that it took two years for regulations to be issued after the law was passed. She says experts estimate it will take “at least five times longer” to get the Dodd-Frank regulations written.
“If half of them miss their deadlines, we could be talking about much longer,” warned de Rugy.
Although most business owners will say that they dislike government regulation in general, businesses can adapt and thrive in new regulatory environments, but only if they have time to prepare. It’s the waiting that leaves them hesitant to invest or hire.
“They don't know what the cost of the health care is going to be, just that they’re going to be mandated to provide something,” Dan Danner, President and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, told Fox News. “They have no idea what it’s going to cost.”
Until the regulations are ultimately rolled out on the health care and financial regulation laws, de Rugy predicts that many investors, entrepreneurs, and business owners won’t be able to make decisions about “their borrowing, their hiring, anything you need to do business.”
Danner is confident that business owners will be able to work around the content of the regulations once they get a look at them. He says the business owners he represents are optimists. “They’re looking forward to things getting better – and them creating jobs.”
Initial proposals for the health care law regulations have been drafted, but the final regulations aren’t due until 2015.
This story is the latest in Fox News' series '10 Ways to Save the Economy.'
Shannon Bream currently serves as anchor of FOX News Channel's (FNC) FOX News @ Night (weekdays 11PM-12AM/ET). She joined the network in 2007 as a Washington D.C-based correspondent covering the Supreme Court.