Congressmembers on both sides of the aisle yesterday joined forces to pass the so-called “Jobs for America Act” (H.R. 4).
In the vote, 221 Republicans and 32 Democrats matched the absurd anti-regulatory rhetoric of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other Big Business groups with absurd anti-regulatory policy. The bill contains provisions designed to stifle, stall, shrink and stop safeguards the public relies on and includes the text of familiar deregulatory bills like the Regulatory Accountability Act and the REINS Act (which the House already has voted on). If enacted, H.R. 4 represents a green light allowing reckless corporations to do simply whatever they want with as little oversight as possible.
Big Business groups have been making hyperbolic claims about regulations killing jobs – and the inverse claim that gutting regulation will create jobs – for decades. The predictions never come true.
Consider the following examples from Public Citizen’s recent report:
- 1974: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration bans the carcinogen, vinyl chloride. The plastics industry claimed that the OSHA regulation would kill 2.2 million jobs. Those claims were proven completely false. A new way to manufacture vinyl chloride was developed within a year without any jobs lost.
- 1975: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration increases the fuel efficiency standard. Industry reports warned that 1.5 million jobs would be lost. By 1985, automakers had met the higher standard without losing any jobs.
- 1990: The Environmental Protection Agency sets new pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. Business Groups responded with doomsday hysterics, claiming up to 2 million jobs would be lost. Those were proven entirely wrong. Instead, according to the Investor’s Business Daily, “Pollution has been falling across the board for decades, even while the nation’s population and economy have expanded.”
- 1995: EPA removes lead from gasoline. Monsanto claimed 43 million jobs would be killed. The removal of lead is now considered one of the biggest public health success stories while gas prices did not dramatically increase and no jobs were lost.
Not all conservatives buy Corporate America’s up-is-down claims that regulations “kill” jobs. Bruce Bartlett, an economist in Reagan and Bush Administrations, on the claim that cutting regulations will lead to job growth, concludes, “[I]t’s just nonsense. It’s just made up,” in an exhaustive, book-length analysis.
And why wouldn’t they? The House of Representatives is convinced.