Washington has been telling Texas small business, including Texas oil and gas companies, how they should be run for a long time. For a few moments, Texas businesses had a chance to tell Washington what to do, and the overriding message was: stop meddling.Over 30 small Texas business owners met with Republican Congressman Pete Olson to discuss ways in which the federal government could help small businesses create jobs. Most businesses were in the manufacturing, chemical, and oil and gas industries. They complained about the federal government’s heavy hand, especially as represented by the Environmental Protection Agency. One businessman scoffed at the idea that growing levels of carbon dioxide contributed to global warming; instead, he believed that higher levels of carbon dioxide were a natural byproduct of warming.
Mainly, the group of business owners wanted the federal government to use regulation as a force of good, not to hamper small businesses. “They’re like police who just want to getcha,” a businessman complained about the federal regulatory agencies. In particular, the business owners requested that Washington require foreign companies to comply with the same regulations that American businesses comply with, or face higher import duties. They also requested that the federal government stop the process of bundling that results in larger companies being favored for contracts over smaller companies.
Business owners also had a long list of regulations that they wanted cut back or removed altogether. This included repealing the Dodd-Frank Act that purports to reform Wall Street, reducing the power of the Food and Drug Administration, creating sunset provisions on certain taxes and agencies, speeding the process for drilling permits, and reducing the amount of time and effort it takes to complete an Environmental Impact Statement, or eliminate it altogether.
“The jobs are there,” Congressman Olson claimed, “we just need to get the government off the private sector’s back” and allow them to come out. One businessman remarked that due to oppressive government regulations, he had to lay off several employees and move their jobs overseas.
The small business owners did not just want regulations changed or repealed, however. They also wanted the federal government to invest in ways to help Americans become more competitive. One thing they hoped for was that the education of high school and community college students be improved to make them more competitive in a new global workforce. They also sought a balanced budget amendment that would prevent deficit spending and pave the way for a healthier economy and more robust job growth.
Too often in Texas, business owners — especially those in the oil and gas industry, have been subject to lectures by federal officials who think that they know best. Yet typically, they know less than the individuals who work in the industry every day. It is easy for a Washington bureaucrat to preach from a distance, but he doesn’t have to face the consequences of over-regulation — the loss of income and jobs and the shock effects to the local economy. Texas business need to continue to be vocal, and perhaps Washington might even be willing to take the needs of those of us out here trying to make a living seriously.