Many Americans say that regulations are hurting the economy, and the Obama administration seems to be paying attention.
Three-quarters of American voters say that American businesses are over-regulated, and that more regulations cause jobs to move overseas, according to a new national survey by the Tarrance Group. Three-quarters of Americans also say that every time the government mandates a new regulation on large and small businesses, the prices of goods such as food and gasoline go up.
The Obama administration disclosed plans in August to cut or roll back hundreds of federal regulations that are projected to save businesses up to $10 billion over the next five years and boost job growth. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called the move "underwhelming." Some progressives have criticized the move as reflecting the wrong priorities from the White House.
"I really worry that [EPA administrator] Lisa Jackson wasn't asked how she could save the most lives with the limited money she has. She was told to placate industry," said Rena Steinzor, the president of the Center for Progressive Reform.
Even as Americans say that regulations take away American jobs, regulations often have positive benefits and can help the economy by improving people's living standards. Raising the minimum wage could boost worker productivity and economic growth without raising unemployment. Greenhouse gas regulations have been linked to job growth. The regulations in the new health care law improve health care coverage by not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, allowing young people to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 27, and preventing insurance companies from dropping coverage for people once they get sick.
Still, in another recent survey, three-quarters of Americans said they associate regulations most with unnecessary red tape, restrictions that lack common sense, or higher costs for American goods. Only two percent of Americans said they associate regulations most with protections for customers from businesses.
Three-quarters of Americans also say that major federal regulations would impact consumers or small businesses the most. Forty-seven percent of Americans said that job losses are most likely to result from major new federal regulations.
However, Americans are more approving of regulations impacting large institutions, such as banks. Half of Americans favor regulating Wall Street banks, Gallup found in two separate polls. After the start of the financial crisis, 60 percent of Americans said it was critical for the Obama administration to pass new regulations on financial institutions, while only one in five Americans favored bailouts for banks and automobile companies.
Nonetheless, Americans have a negative view of regulations when they are asked about them in more general terms. Of those surveyed, 59 percent of Americans say that the federal government is too powerful, and 57 percent of Americans say that there is too much government regulation of business, according to Gallup. More than half of Americans say that environmental regulations put Americans at risk of job loss, since businesses could move their jobs overseas, according to the Tarrance Group.