There’s an inverse relationship between the size and scope of government and the health of our free-market economy. That’s why House Republicans made deregulation a cornerstone of our American Jobs Plan.
Every new rule, mandate, and regulatory edict is one more obstacle that small business owners, entrepreneurs, and job creators have to swallow. That holds especially true for our dynamic and competitive tech industry, which I have worked hard to protect from Big Government intrusion. Unfortunately, the tech industry is not immune to Obama’s regulatory capture, and it looks like America’s iconic innovators might be next on Obama’s hit list.
Most people don’t realize that the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) reach extends to one-sixth of our economy. Most people don’t know that in the last 50 years the FCC’s rules – measured in pages – have grown 800 percent. And now the FCC’s sister agency – the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – has its tentacles deep into the privacy debate, data security, and control over advertising practices.
As in all sectors, excessive regulation kills — regardless who your regulator is.
What’s worse is that the federal government fundamentally misunderstands the tech industry even more than it misunderstands health care, finance, and energy. Technology is characterized by constant change, rapid innovation, creative destruction, and revolutionary products. The technology sector moves 500 times faster than the detached delusions that dominate Big Government agencies. The fact is we don’t know where this industry is going, how technologies will converge, what competition will look like, or what products consumers will want in the future.
If Obama’s regulators were tasked with ensuring playground safety, the first thing they would do is ban monkey-bars, swing-sets, slides, and the ever-dangerous see-saw. A bloody nose in West Tennessee would "force" them to ban running, skipping, and foursquare. In all likelihood, they wouldn't be content until recess was outlawed entirely. To be fair, these actions would protect our kids from a few sprained ankles, scraped knees, and hurt feelings. But at what price?
At what price are we willing to imprison American businesses in a regulatory straightjacket? At what price are we willing to destroy what works? At what price are we willing crush innovation and ship tech jobs overseas? We must consider the unintended consequences of excessive regulation. Let’s think first before we drive a regulatory tank into a thriving American industry.
So how do we respond?
First, the government’s default position must be “Do No Harm.”We must oppose any so-called government “solutions” thathinder innovation and job creation. Put jobs at the forefront of the regulatory debate, immediately.
According to the Phoenix Center, a simple 5% reduction in the regulatory budget is estimated to result in about $75 billion in expanded private sector GDP each year, with an increase in employment by 1.2 million jobs annually. On average, eliminating the job of a single regulator grows the American economy by $6.2 million and nearly 100 private sector jobs annually.
Second, the Obama Administration must force the independent agencies to comply with Executive Order 13563, which requires a justification for new regulations as well as a retrospective analysis of existing rules. New rules must address specific market failures in a narrowly tailored fashion and they must cost significantly less than the benefits that result.
Third, government needs to respect private industry. A conservative vision to tech issues assumes the imperfection of mankind and a preference for markets – not politics – to drive outcomes. I would suggest that if politicians and regulators were ineffective at engineering society before the digital age, they might not be the best at keeping pace in this new era of US-based technological progress. Government knows so little, reacts so slowly, and works so poorly. The government should stop pretending it has all the answers and knows how best to regulate. Job creators are rapid responders. The tech industry is infinitely more responsive and better equipped to meet consumer needs, wants, demands, interests, and desires than the federal government.
Finally, we need to stream-line government rules and regulations to better reflect the competitive and dynamic characteristics that define the tech industry. That means Congress must take the lead in getting the regulatory agencies away from duplicative regulation. Congress must insist on the repeal of outdated and unnecessary rules. We need to address legacy regulations and examine ways to make the FCC more relevant to today’s competitive realities. Level the playing field for everyone so innovators can operate and compete under a similar set of rules. We need a new way of doing business that flips the government’s regulatory presumption on its head. Government should neither pick winners and losers on the front end nor practice selective and excessive enforcement on the back end.
There’s a long list of businesses and industries that Congress has regulated into insolvency and shipped overseas. Even President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi would probably agree: shipping America’s high-paying tech jobs to China is a bad idea. Not to beg for bipartisanship, but how about we keep our tech jobs in Brentwood from getting regulated off to Beijing?
Nobody changes their playbook when they’re winning in the fourth quarter. America’s playbook for economic prosperity has always been very straightforward: let the American people and American job creators do what they do best – get government out of the way and allow them to create and innovate. History has taught us the bigger the government, the smaller the private sector. Let’s embrace what has always made America great – our ability to solve problems, revolutionize industries, and meet the needs of consumers. Those should be the principles that govern any new regulation, especially in the dynamic and innovative tech industry. Let’s apply this vision before Obama’s regulatory apocalypse crowds out private innovation and job creation in the tech arena.