Beware associations that claim to represent small-business groups

From David Levine, president, American Sustainable Business Council, and Katherine McFate, president and CEO, Center for Effective Government

In the Jan. 15 article “Small businesses call for greater voice in regs,” the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) claims that small businesses are pushing for so-called “regulatory relief,” code words for weakening the standards and safeguards that protect our communities and enhance business innovation. 

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But the NFIB doesn’t represent the myriad of small businesses across America; in fact, it includes companies with hundreds of employees and tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Many small-business leaders strongly support sensible safeguards and object to the group’s ongoing attacks on public protections. 

Small businesses do need a voice in the federal regulatory process, and they are willing to engage. But expanding the scope of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act will increase the influence of big corporations and the trade association lobbyists they support, not small businesses. 

A November 2014 report from the Center for Effective Government, “Gaming the Rules,” showed that the current small-business review process that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must follow is heavily tilted toward trade associations that represent the interests of large corporations. Business organizations like the American Sustainable Business Council continue to voice concerns that small-business participation has often been blocked, undermined and ignored. In the end, the process slows rule-making dramatically, wastes money with duplicative analyses and generally weakens health and safety protections.  

The report recommended a set of reforms that would ensure actual small businesses are represented in the process. Until those reforms are made, expanding a process that gives big corporations and their lobbyists more opportunities to influence federal rules would be a huge step backward in giving more voice to the real priorities of small businesses and the American communities they serve.

Washington, D.C. 

Economy will collapse if we do not reform campaign finance law

From Norm Stewart

The economy of the USA is manipulated by the Federal Reserve, creating a false impression of growth and prosperity. The central bank prints and issues money as an artificial way of pretending that the economy is growing and the wealthy are contributing to that growth. Our economy is in deep trouble. The 1 percent, our richest, own our politicians. The politicians who count on the 1 percent for campaign contributions do their masters’ bidding even though it is bad policy. Without removing campaign contributions from the equation with public financing of national, state and local elections, we will continue this policy of bribery until the next collapse. It is inevitable. 

We must begin with federally funded elections. All candidates have the same amount of money to campaign. No outside money allowed. Restore free speech by denying the rich unequal influence to bribe candidates. Only this will clean up this mess.

Aventura, Fla.