In an interview with The Economist, President Obama claims that his administration’s policies have “generally been friendly towards business.”
I’ll grant him this: On the need for immigration reform and promoting trade, his administration has been on the right side. But here’s the flipside: On health care, energy, environmental regulations, financial regulations, and labor law, his administration has put up too many barriers that keep businesses from growing, investing, and hiring.
Despite the promise to lower health care costs, recent surveys have found that employers expect costs to rise 8% - 9%. The biggest worry for business owners and executives remains rising health care costs.
There’s been little done to pull back the onerous employer mandate. Its definition of full-time work continues to be a perverse incentive to hire part-timers. Yet, the White House threatened to veto a House bill that would restore the 40-hour definition of full-time work. In addition, complying with its reporting requirements will be costly and complex.
Oil and natural gas production on federal lands has decreased, while it’s increased on private and state lands.
Also, we’re still waiting for the administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s found plenty of excuses to delay it and keep thousands of jobs from being created.
EPA has proposed carbon regulations that will raise electricity prices and cost one million jobs.
Its (along with the Army Corps of Engineers’) proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule will subject farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, home builders—nearly any property owner—to new layers of reviews and permitting.
It is considering a lower ozone standard that will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and put 94% of the population into areas that are out of compliance.
Under Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, regulators have to treat insurance companies like banks even though they have much different business models. As John Berlau points out in The Hill, this flawed regulatory approach will hurt the insurance industry and its customers:
Imposing bank capital standards on insurers would raise costs for life insurance consumers by $5 billion to $8 billion, according to the economic consulting firm Oliver Wyman. These costs could hit policy holders both through higher premiums and reduced benefits. And some policies simply could become unavailable as insurers “exit certain product lines,” the Oliver Wyman study found.
After the President filled it with pro-union commissioners, the National Labor Relations board wants to treat McDonald’s as a joint employer, which will change decades of labor law and upend the franchise business model, as Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (owners of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. brands) writes in the Wall Street Journal [subscription required] [h/t Tim Worstall]:
If the NLRB’s new interpretation of the rules—which McDonald’s has vowed to contest—becomes the law of the land, it will be tantamount to rewriting an existing contractual relationship by government fiat in ways the parties never contemplated and to their mutual detriment. Franchisers would inevitably pass the costs of jointly managing their franchisees’ employees on to their franchisees. Franchisees would find themselves unable to control their labor costs, a key controllable expense and an important element of their profitability.
These are just the issues at the top of my mind. In no way, have President Obama’s policies been “generally good for business.” More often than not, this administration has created policy roadblocks that keep businesses from investing and hiring. The tepid jobs recovery is proof of that.
Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.