Government regulation
election scorecard environment

Although President Obama has issued fewer regulations than his predecessor, George W. Bush, the average annual cost to businesses is higher -- estimated at $4.1 billion. The regulations his administration has issued on health care and on the energy industry top the list of the most costly, including stricter EPA and emissions standards and a ban on some forms of energy exploration. To his credit, he supported the modernization of outdated Securities and Exchange Commission rules as part of the Jumpstart our Businesses Startup (JOBS) Act. The act now allows for crowd-fund investing, and changes archaic rules that impede capital access for startup and high-growth businesses.

Romney wants to establish firm limits to government regulation, arguing that they stifle job growth and that small businesses cannot bear the costs. He wants to roll back the Affordable Care Act (health care reform) and the Dodd-Frank Act. He is advocating for tort reform in an effort to reduce spurious litigation. Romney has also called for a cost-benefit analysis during the regulation-making process so environmental laws properly account for the costs they will incur on businesses; multi-year lead times for companies to prepare for compliance of new regulations; and legislation that would require congressional approval of all new major regulations.

Reality Check: It is estimated that federal government regulatory costs total a whopping $1.75 trillion annually. Besides health care reform, new environmental laws can be burdensome for many smaller firms. Although many of these laws could help save money in the long run, right now they may seem onerous to small business owners. According to the Small Business Administration, compliance with environmental regulations costs small businesses 364% more than large firms. The prospect of new regulation might increase uncertainty among small businesses and investors; as a result, less capital may be devoted to investment.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated November 05 2012 03:37 PM ET
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