Fight red tape to boost economy

Oct 30, 2011
In The News
By U.S. Rep. John Barrow

There’s pretty much universal agreement throughout the country that our government has too many regulations on the books.

It’s never been more difficult or time-consuming to try to start a small business or expand an existing company. According to the Federal Register, the 2009 Code of Federal Regulations contains 163,333 pages in 226 books. Imagine trying to start a business and having to navigate through all those regulations. It’s absurd, wasteful and an enormous obstacle to our economy.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the amount of time businesses and people spend doing paperwork for the government has increased 30 percent in the past 10 years. And according to The New York Times, that paperwork burden now amounts to more than one day a year for every single American. That’s an awful lot of time being spent on government paperwork – whether it is doing your taxes, submitting reports or applying for grants or permits.

MANY REGULATIONS are necessary. They protect us against snake-oil salesmen, keep our food supply safe and prevent toxic chemicals from being released in our rivers and streams. But there are still many more that are ridiculous and overly burdensome.

How many are implemented without fully considering the impact on our economy, or on the folks whose livelihoods are affected? How many are implemented by government bureaucrats justifying – and possibly abusing – regulatory authority?

Far too many. We are living in tough times, and our economy needs a boost to get people back to work. Job creation needs to be Congress’ No. 1 priority. Right now, the so-called Super Committee is considering ways to cut trillions of dollars from the federal budget. There is pressure from all sides to cut spending, raise taxes or some combination of both. They have a tough job.

One place I think they ought to look for some savings is among those 163,333 pages of federal regulations. We can really make a difference if we get rid of some of these useless and onerous regulations.

AS THE CO-CHAIRMAN for policy for the Blue Dog Democrats, I’ve appointed a Task Force on Oversight and Regulatory Review to highlight some of these useless and burdensome regulations. I plan on putting together a list and eliminating them one by one. I ask everyone to help me – the Super Committee, the president, Cabinet secretaries, even Congress.

I can’t do this alone, though. The problem is too big for any one Congressman to understand, much less fix, on his own. I need the help of small business owners and local officials who have been affected by these regulations. Send an email to my office at and let me know about regulations that are slowing your business development or holding us back from creating jobs.

Help me find the useless, burdensome regulations, and I’ll help you get rid of them. Maybe then folks will have a little more time to work on what’s really important – improving our economy and creating jobs.

(The writer represents Georgia’s 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.)