WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business are working to make the anti-regulatory fervor their members share an issue in the last weeks of the campaign.
The chamber and the manufacturers group have taken out issue ads saying the expense to business in complying with federal regulations is killing job creation. NFIB local affiliates are conducting tours and news conferences to let small business owners present their personal stories.
The NFIB hired former Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas to coordinate the anti-regulatory campaign. So far the federation has endorsed only two Democratic candidates for Congress compared with at least 30 in the GOP.
"I don't think it's a partisan issue," Lincoln maintained in an interview. "There's reasonable compromise to be had here."
Lincoln was defeated in 2010 by Republican John Boozman, who made her vote in favor of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul a major issue in his campaign.
The GOP-run House passed a stream of anti-regulation bills over the past 21 months, only to see most of them die in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Two Republican bills did become law. One repealed a small business paperwork requirement in Obama's health care overhaul law and another rescinded several rules arising out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law regulating the financial industry.
The effort, however, has had a more widespread impact. The Obama administration abandoned or delayed a multitude of regulatory proposals, such as cracking down on junk food at school bake sales, banning children from dangerous farm work and setting federal standards for disposing of toxic ash from coal-fired power plants.
Responding to House Republicans' steady equation of regulations with job losses, the administration ordered its own review of federal rules, guidelines and standards. Hundreds of them have been scrapped.
While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has promised in many campaign speeches to "get the government out of the way," his only mention of regulations in his nomination acceptance speech was in a single paragraph.
He promised to "champion small businesses," adding: "That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare."
Obama responded in two separate portions in his acceptance speech:
"After all that we've been through, I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker to keep his home. We've been there, we've tried that, and we're not going back."
And: "Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can't do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can't afford health insurance, hope that you don't get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that's just the price of progress. You know what? That's not who we are. That's not what this country's about."
Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said RNC campaign mailings will include, as part of the message, the need to prevent regulations that harm businesses.
The NFIB campaign is targeting voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. So far, it has endorsed eight Senate candidates and two dozen candidates for the House. All are Republicans except for incumbent Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson in Utah and Mike McIntyre in North Carolina.
Despite the endorsement lineup so far, the small business group's senior vice president of public policy, Susan Eckerly, insisted it's not a Republican campaign organization and said she's certain there are plenty of Democrats in the organizations comprising the federation's "sensible regulations" coalition.
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