Many in the political class cling to an economic myth that government creates jobs. Economic reality is that the private sector creates jobs, but government policies often are extremely effective at killing jobs. Often time the best thing the government can do is to cause no more harm — case in point are job-killing air rules coming out of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mercifully, President Obama last week killed the new, stricter ozone standards estimated to cost between $20 billion and $90 billion per year for industry to comply with, making it one the most expensive rulemakings ever to be issued by the EPA. Critics estimated that the rule could destroy 7.3 million jobs.
The new rule would have classified an additional 565 counties nationwide, including much of west Michigan, as being out of compliance. Such a classification is not just a matter of bureaucratic nomenclature, but rather a de facto moratorium on economic growth. New and modified sources of air emissions, such as factories and power plants, would be required to install expensive air pollution controls and could not locate or expand without acquiring offsets from other sources that have shut down. The required offsets may be difficult or impossible to obtain and the extra cost and hassle only serves to push more U.S. jobs offshore.
Michigan has dodged the bullet on the new proposed ozone ruling for the time being, but there are several additional rulemakings proposed by the EPA with a cost of more than $1 billion that will destroy jobs in Michigan. Whatever his motivation, President Obama has taken the correct action by withdrawing the proposed ozone rule. If the president is truly concerned about jobs, he should withdraw the remainder of the EPA’s rules before they wreak additional havoc on an already anemic economy.
The question that should be asked of the political class in not what they can do for us to create jobs, but what they have done to by passing laws and issuing regulations that kill jobs. Elected leaders need to undo the harm they have created through an administrative state that is out of control. Spending more money sinking the federal government further into debt will not create long-term jobs, but dismantling job-killing regulations will allow the private sector to expand and hire more workers.