To boost recovery, Congress must evaluate regulatory reforms
It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. A similar lesson can apply to efforts to strengthen America’s economic recovery from the current crisis.
It is imperative for Congress to review what recent history tells us regarding the impacts of regulatory policy on recovery. In the wake of our last economic crisis – the 2008 Financial Crisis – the federal government undertook a massive regulatory expansion. Stagnation ensued, not a quick recovery. It took the Trump administration’s institution of regulatory relief before we finally witnessed rapid, positive results.
It is common sense to look at the evidence from these contrasting approaches and see what lessons we can draw to help promote a stronger and faster recovery in 2020. All sides should agree that we need a quicker recovery now than we saw coming out of the Great Recession, when unemployment remained chronically high for several years.
Our current situation is vastly different from 2008, when the consequences of the subprime mortgage crisis rattled global financial markets and devastated our economy. Just a few months into 2020, we saw the strongest economy of my lifetime torpedoed by a pandemic.
But however different the roots of the two crises are, we can use lessons from the past to chart a responsible pathway forward.
President Trump wisely acted to waive regulations which hindered efforts to defeat COVID-19. For example, speeding up approvals for vaccines and therapeutic treatments has been an effective step toward finding an end to the coronavirus crisis.
And in Kentucky, distilleries known for producing Kentucky bourbon have contributed to the fight by adapting their operations to manufacture much-needed hand sanitizer. Just as distilleries stepped up to help hospitals and front-line workers, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) assisted these companies by allowing the Federal Excise Tax (FET) to be removed from a donated product.
But we must do more to ensure that businesses are not needlessly constrained by outdated regulations that fail to meet the moment. In doing so, we must listen to the job creators essential to any recovery – not treat them with hostility by dismissing the need for measures such as coronavirus liability protections, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats have done.
As ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, I recently invited a broad coalition of the American business community to join me in gathering the evidence that can help us to pursue the right regulatory reforms to help strengthen our recovery.
Far too often, Democrats dismiss the input of the business community. For example, Vice President Joe Biden has recently made his hostility to America’s job creators clear by proposing plans to reinstate higher, Obama-era tax rates.
It is clear that if America is going to emerge from COVID-19 stronger, groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Association of Manufacturers must be at the table. With the help of these important voices, as well as those of many others, we will examine the Obama-Biden regulatory expansion alongside the Trump administration’s regulatory relief efforts. This comparison will give us keen insight into determining the impact of new regulatory reforms and provide a roadmap for the policies to pursue moving forward.
Our nation needs commonsense regulatory reform to recover more strongly from this crisis, get our nation back to work, and rebuild President Trump’s solid economic foundation.
Mr. Comer, a Republican, serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and represents Kentucky’s 1st District.