(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The National Retail Federation (NRF) welcomed plans announced by the Obama Administration in late August to streamline hundreds of government regulations, but said the plan does not go far enough.
“This is a step in the right direction but at the same time the Administration is promising to reduce regulations, the government is continuing to crank out new rules that hamper the ability of the business community to create desperately needed new jobs,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “It’s time to stop the presses at government agencies and on Capitol Hill and focus on reform of what’s already on the books.”
French cited examples such as pending regulations proposed by the National Labor Relations Board that would make it easier for unions to win organizing elections, rules under health care reform that will force many employers to reduce their workforces in order to meet the increased payroll costs of government-mandated health coverage, trade barriers on textiles and apparel, OSHA recordkeeping requirements and the Commerce Department’s agenda for consumer privacy rules that could curtail improvements to online shopping.
President Obama signed an executive order in January requiring federal agencies to review business regulations and streamline or eliminate them where possible. The Administration unveiled a package of regulations that have been identified for action, and said businesses would “likely” save $10 billion over the next five years.
“We’ve been presented with a package of rules the Administration says should be streamlined, but it’s vital that what has been proposed actually be accomplished,” French said. “If we look back a year from now and these regulations are still in place or have barely been touched, then this will all have been an exercise in lip service.”
In addition to reducing government regulation, French said the Administration should focus on assisting employers, especially small businesses, with regulatory compliance rather than aggressively pursuing fines and penalties.
“If the purpose of regulations is to ensure that companies conduct business in a responsible way, then let’s give them help in doing so,” French said. “Massive fines simply take away money that could be put to better use creating jobs and growing the economy.”
French said the Administration also needs to provide sufficient resources to make some existing regulations work more smoothly, citing post-9/11 rules that have made it difficult for tourists from China and other key countries to travel to the United States and shop in U.S. stores because of long delays in processing visa applications. The lack of sufficient State Department staff to process applications is costing U.S. retailers billions of dollars in lost sales.
As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. For more information please visit www.nrf.com.