Shortly after President Obama announced his plans this week to create a new cabinet-level position called the Secretary of Business, critics pounced.
“The reality is that most businesses don’t want their own cabinet department,” Wall Street Journal editors wrote in an op-ed that appeared in the newspaper Tuesday. “They’ll invest more and hire more workers if Washington would impose fewer costs, reform the tax code, and stop trying to allocate capital for political reasons. Rebuilding business confidence doesn't require a Secretary of Business but a new President.”
Speaking to the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday, Obama said a Secretary of Business would serve to consolidate several commerce-related government agencies, a plan he originally proposed in January.
“We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like getting loans to SBA [the Small Business Administration] or helping companies with exports,” Obama said Monday. “There should be a one-stop shop.”
Obama blamed Congress for blocking such a consolidation in his first term, claiming that lawmakers remain “very protective about not giving up their jurisdiction over various pieces of government.”
Indeed, heavy bureaucratic redundancies exist between America’s government agencies, especially when it comes to providing assistance to small businesses. Among just four agencies, a 2011 government report found, there are 52 programs to fund “entrepreneurial efforts.”
For its part, the SBA backed $30.2 billion in lending to small businesses in fiscal 2012, the second-largest amount of loans in the agency’s history, beaten only by 2011’s $30.5 billion. (Click here for information on receiving disaster relief if your small business was affected by Hurricane Sandy.)
Comments from the Romney campaign on Monday regarding the president’s plan to create a Secretary of Business mirrored those of the WSJ editors. “We don’t need a ‘secretary of business,’ a Romney campaign spokesman said in a statement. “We need a new president who actually understands business and won’t punish it with the job-killing regulations that have been imposed by the Obama administration.”