Late last year I visited the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa, Kan., for a hearing at the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the future of energy regulation. I was there representing Associated Industries of Missouri, the state's leading business advocacy organization, to made a plea for regulatory common sense.
My final advice to the EPA was: "Don't try to fit the square peg of regulation into the round hole of reason." Advocates of meaningful regulatory reform will understand what I meant.
Regulation without reason has become an epidemic in Washington, D.C. Without the checks and balances provided by a federal budget, our representatives in the House and Senate are powerless to stop appointed federal officials from passing regulations without independent analysis of their benefits or their effect on the economy.
Simply stated, no one is regulating the regulators. Excessive, unnecessary and redundant regulations are weighing down our economic recovery and stalling job creation. And all this regulation is adding huge unproductive costs to the economy.
Since 2006, there has been a breathtaking 60 percent increase in regulations costing $100 million or more to implement. Regulation has increased by more than 20 percent over the last decade, and there are more than 3,500 new regulations still to come. This uncertainty has discouraged many companies from hiring, even as the economy has picked up steam.
The time is right for a bipartisan drive for regulatory reform in Congress. Meaningful reform would mean cutting back on unnecessary regulations and requiring an independent cost/benefit analysis of any proposed new regulations. We need qualified people to pose the question "will this new regulation do more harm than good?"
Regulatory reform is not a plot by business to eliminate all regulation. The business community wants to see the regulatory process made fairer, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of the public instead of the narrow agendas of federal agencies.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have expressed interest in that kind of reform, as has President Obama. But to convert interest into action, we need some key players in Congress to step forward and lead the way. Missouri's U.S. Senators, Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, have a chance to be those leaders.
For the sake of Missouri and the rest of country, I hope they're willing to take on the job.