The House of Representatives is expected to consider a bill shortly that would bring about a major overhaul of rule-making processes that set rules for the financial sector, public health and environmental standards, workplace healthy and safety, and other public safeguards.
The Regulatory Accountability Act (or RAA) is being promoted on the pretext of helping small businesses. But real small business owners aren’t buying the anti-regulatory hype. Indeed, in poll after poll and interview after interview, small business owners say what they need to grow and create jobs is more customers, not deregulation.
We asked leaders in the Main Street Alliance network to share their take on the Regulatory Accountability Act and the broader debate about cutting regulations in the name of small business. Here’s what some of them had to say:
Kelly Conklin co-owns Foley-Waite Associates, a custom woodworking business in Bloomfield, New Jersey:
“The Regulatory Accountability Act is just the next example of attempting to shift risk and shift costs from big businesses to small businesses. This bill would gut rules and standards that protect small businesses, the communities where we live and work, and the customers we rely on for our livelihoods.
“I’d like to know, how will rolling back financial standards and allowing another financial crisis help small businesses? How will rolling back environmental rules and allowing another BP spill help small businesses? To hear these proposals being marketed in the name of helping small businesses, it’s just infuriating. This is small business identity theft – using our good name to push an agenda that benefits narrow special interests at our expense.
“Once again the political ambitions of a few are being placed above economic recovery, environmental common sense and the health and safety of small business owners, our employees, and the communities we serve.”
Jim Houser owns Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon:
“These attacks on basic regulatory standards are misguided at best. They completely miss – or ignore – the fact that standards and regulations create jobs and support innovation.
“Just look at my industry, auto repair. In our sector, smart, focused automobile emission standards protect the air we breathe, provide needed employment for the nation’s repair technicians who keep our vehicles running clean, and promote innovations that help U.S. companies be on the cutting edge of new automotive technologies.”
Garry Ault owns All Makes Vacuum in Boise, Idaho:
“I’ve been trying to sell my small business and retire for over a year. I had to cut the selling price back to the point where I would make only $1,500 more than I paid for my business in 1980. Why? Because of the policies of the last 20 years that deregulated our financial sector, encouraged reckless gambling on Wall Street, and precipitated the 2008 financial crisis and this Second Great Depression small businesses are struggling to pull through today.
“Deregulation is a scam – it helps the big guys at the little guy’s expense. Our politicians have got to know that by now, and if they do then there’s just no excuse for pushing this agenda that’s going to hurt small businesses even more.”
Melanie Collins owns Melanie’s Home Childcare in Falmouth, Maine:
“Deregulation that helps narrow, big business interests – like banks, insurers, and oil companies – has the reverse effect on small businesses, who are the majority of our job creators. Compromising environmental protections and the ability to maintain healthy communities with a healthy customer base is counterproductive to small business job creation and an economically vibrant future.
“What small businesses need are customers – Americans with spending money in their pockets – not deregulation that gives big corporations free reign to cut corners, use their market power at our expense, and force even more small businesses to lay people off and close up shop.”
November 10: Small Business Owners Demand Banks, Health Insurers, Oil Companies Come Clean on Dark Money
Small Business Owners to Banks, Insurers, Energy Companies: “How Are You Spending Our Money?”
Washington, DC—Small business owners in the Main Street Alliance network launched the “Business Against Dark Money” campaign today, calling on banks, health insurers, and oil companies to fully disclose their “dark money” spending – dues and contributions to trade associations and other third parties that can then be used for political purposes, often to advance big business interests at the expense of small businesses, without disclosure of the original source.
Click below for letters sent to national banks, health insurers, energy companies, and their trade groups (state level letters are available upon request; email email@example.com).
OIL AND GAS COMPANIES:
The Obama Administration's recent announcement that it will not move forward with long-awaited evidence-based updates to smog standards is disappointing news for Main Street small businesses.
Clean air is a Main Street value. It always has been. And for good reason: cleaner air improves health and productivity, and reduces absenteeism and business health costs.
By the same token, the decision not to move forward with the new smog standards shifts the costs of lost work days and increased health care costs from smog-related illnesses (like asthma) onto small businesses. The proposed ozone standards would yield health benefits worth tens of billions of dollars annually by 2020, preventing or avoiding up to 12,000 premature deaths, 58,000 asthma attacks, 21,000 hospital and emergency room visits, and 420,000 lost work days.
Some groups that claim to represent the unified voice of the business community pit clean air against job creation. In their telling, we can have clean air or we can have jobs, but not both. In other words, jobs and a healthy economy can come only at the expense of healthy communities. Main Street small business owners recognize this as a false choice.
Healthy communities are integral to the success of America’s small businesses. While big corporations can dump pollution in a community and then close up shop and move somewhere else without their CEOs or shareholders ever having to breathe the local air, small businesses can't. Small business owners, their employees, and their customers all breathe the same air.
That's why clean air is a Main Street value. And that's why we'll keep fighting for standards that protect clean air, protect the public health, and protect local communities and local economies.
Ground-level ozone - commonly known as "smog" - harms public health and worker productivity. Ozone reduces lung function, inflames airways and aggravates respiratory problems like asthma and lung disease. According to the EPA, strengthening ozone standards will annually prevent or avoid up to 58,000 asthma attacks, 21,000 hospital and ER visits, and 420,000 lost work days.
But efforts to strengthen these standards are under attack by major polluters using an old trick - hiding behind small business. The Main Street Alliance is inviting small business owners to sign a letter to the White House to demonstrate that you support clean air and strong ozone standards to protect community health and productivity.Please join us in signing on!
Opponents of clean air and water standards are putting their money into a new set of wheels. It's called the TRAIN Act (TRAIN stands for Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation - read the bill here).
Put briefly, this proposal is an attempt to open a new line of attack on the Environmental Protection Agency and rules that protect and promote clean air and water, veiled in the language of "cost-benefit analyses." And when the proponents of this proposal say "cost-benefit" analysis, what they really mean is "cost-cost" analysis - that is, an evaluation that takes into account only the costs and not the benefits of clean air and water for businesses, local economies, and communities.
The fact is, we already have review processes set up to look carefully at the full picture of costs and benefits when it comes to updating the standards that protect our air and water. We have plenty of cost-benefit analyses, both from government agencies and from independent third parties. And when you look at the full picture, it's clear that the benefits of our air and water standards far outweigh the costs for small businesses and for our economy overall.
A new briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute reaffirms these conclusions. The paper, which looked at both final and proposed EPA rules, found that for nine final rules and four proposed rules studied:
- The combined annual benefits from the nine final rules exceed the costs by $32 billion to $142 billion a year (with benefit/cost ratio ranges from 4-to-1 to 22-to-1).
- The combined annual benefits from the four proposed rules exceed the costs by $160 billion to $440 billion a year (with benefit/cost ratio ranges from 12-to-1 to 32-to-1).
Looking at these benefit-to-cost ratios, we're talking about an impressive return on investment.
Clean air and clean water are Main Street values and always have been. A true cost-benefit analysis shows that they make economic sense for small businesses and for the economy as a whole.
Here's hoping for small businesses that the ill-conceived TRAIN Act never leaves the station.
On April 20, the Montana Small Business Alliance hosted a business roundtable on clean energy and clean air issues with U.S. Senator Jon Tester. Small business owners from Billings and Eastern Montana communities got face to face and shared their perspectives on clean air and energy issues with Senator Tester, who serves on both the Energy & Water Development and Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies subcommittees of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The business owners who joined the roundtable represented a true cross-section of Montana. They included a farmer/rancher, an architect, a restaurant owner, and a carpenter. Though they come from many different sectors, these business leaders were united by their interest in protecting Montana’s quality of life to support healthy communities and vibrant local economies.
Montana has seen many battles waged on the premise that economic growth can only come at the expense of the state’s natural beauty and environment. The business owners at the MSBA roundtable turned this premise on its head, making a compelling case that long-term economic growth goes hand in hand with preserving the state’s natural splendor.
Senator Tester and the roundtable participants discussed the potential for an expansion of jobs related to clean air, clean water and energy efficiency. The business leaders cited examples of maximizing energy efficiency at their businesses as a money-saving mechanism. The conversation also touched on the health care costs related to pollution.
"Nationally, we are spending tens of billions of dollars on health care related costs of using carbon based fuels," said Ben Reed, owner of Winpower West. "We want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the fruits of our labor, not have to pay the costs for them."
“Hearing from small business owners who are strengthening Montana’s economy and creating jobs is one of the most important things I do," Tester said. "Today’s roundtable was full of good ideas about working together to move our economy forward while making responsible decisions about Montana’s land, air and water.”