There's one less bureaucrat at the Environmental Protection Agency now. The arrogant senior official slipped, publicly expressing the Obama administration's view that punishment akin to ancient Roman crucifixion awaits any business that dares oppose the powerful bureau.
In typical Washington fashion, a media storm arose, the official resigned and the head of EPA quickly apologized. But the administration, rather than denouncing its philosophy of law enforcement by fear and intimidation, opted to merely save election-year face by rushing the trouble-maker out of the spotlight.
American small-business owners are not easily fooled by such tactics, nor are they intimidated by a government intent on piling on greater and more punitive regulations. These entrepreneurs are pushing back against over-zealous enforcers who could care less about the cost and impact of excessive rules.
Recently, the National Federation of Independent Business, which is awaiting a major Supreme Court decision on its suit against President Obama's health reform law, raised the voice of small business to another challenge, urging justices to rein in the IRS for overstepping its audit authority. The high court agreed, saying the tax collector was fudging its regulations to double the time it could impose additional taxes on understated income.
NFIB is not only squaring off against big agencies such as EPA and the IRS, but the organization is contesting activities of the National Labor Relations Board, the Department of Labor, and other oversight agencies that have launched campaigns to punish businesses instead of helping them. This approach makes absolutely no sense in times of economic weakness, but advancing the government's anti-business agenda is apparently a greater priority.
NLRB, dominated by pro-labor political appointees, has dropped any pretense of trying to fairly balance labor law. It is driving headlong to undermine employers' efforts to counter union organization attempts with a new rule that would drastically cut the time from petition to ballot. And the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate has sided with the agency, allowing labor bosses to continue their intimidation of vulnerable small firms.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department is rolling out several new management requirements for small businesses ranging from demanding they foresee future work hazards to informing workers how their status and pay are determined to inhibiting business' use of expert labor advisors.
Also exercising its muscle against small business is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which brags of more than doubling the average penalty for safety violations as a way to set an example of toughness. That sets an example alright, but it's one that disgusts today's entrepreneurs and discourages future generations who hope to launch their own small businesses.
Main Street is tired of the arrogance, intimidation and disrespect delivered daily by this administration. They've had enough and they're taking their case to Capitol Hill with a strong message that will be heard from now to Election Day: America cannot afford this excessive regulation and gotcha-style government. It is a disastrous prescription for a troubled economy.
-- Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small-business owners in Washington, D.C. and every state capital.