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Rep. Issa Collects Complaints From Businesses

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

You heard Mara mention friendly gestures. You heard a member of the audience talk about regulatory reform. The president says he does want to eliminate unneeded business regulations, and Republicans in Congress have some ideas of their own.

The House Government Oversight Committee has released nearly 2,000 pages of suggestions it collected from businesses, small and large.

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR: The suggestions came in letters sent to the panel at the invitation of its chairman, Republican Darryl Issa of California.

DARRYL ISSA: But to get our job right, we need help from you - America's proven job creation experts. Would you be willing to tell us about your experiences? We're listening.

NAYLOR: The letters were replies from everyone from the Agricultural Retailers Association to Plumbing Manufacturers International. The American Meat Institute wrote in opposition to a proposed rule, relating to how beef and poultry is labeled and marketed.

Janet Riley, vice president of the meat group, says if implemented, the rule could cost over a 100,000 jobs.

JANET RILEY: We want to make sure the president hears loud and clear that this rule is creating uncertainty in the livestock and meat and poultry industries, that absolutely will harm the economy and stands to eliminate jobs at a time when every job in America is critical.

NAYLOR: It wasn't just big businesses who wrote to complain about regulations, many small business people did, as well. Thomas Adams runs a charter fishing boat operation in Port St. Joe, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. Adams says government imposed strict fishing limits, which regulate the daily catch of some species and the length of the fishing season for others, is costing him and the Florida tourism industry.

THOMAS ADAMS: The different species of fish are being rebuilt but the laws keep getting more restrictive. And it seems like, as bad as our economy is, you don't need to put a few 20 or 50,000 more people out of work.

NAYLOR: Many of the regulations cited by business people focus on the EPA, which has proposed new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and mountaintop removal coal mining, among others. EPA regulations, like labor laws, have long been a target of business.

Skeptics say Republicans are trotting out oldies but goodies, seeking to eliminate regulations in the name of high unemployment that they have sought to overturn even when economic times were good.

Gary Bass is director of OMB Watch.

GARY BASS: And in some respects, it's almost obscene. It is the lack of regulation, or of strong enforcement of regulation, that has helped create the very problems were in today - whether it's Wall Street problems; whether it's the BP oil disaster; whether it's the Massey Energy Mine collapse that killed people; whether it's food safety problems that we see virtually every day.

NAYLOR: Bass says stricter regulations and enforcement are what's needed. That's unlikely in this climate. Congressman Issa plans a hearing later this week, the title: "Regulatory Impediments To Job Creation."

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.