Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Hearing on the “Triple Threat to Workers and Households: Impacts of Federal Regulations on Jobs, Wages and Startups”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today’s hearing is the 29th anti-regulatory hearing that the Committee has held over the past 5 years.  Yet, during those same 5 years, the Committee has not conducted a single hearing on –

                     The devastating impact that overwhelming student loan debt has on families and our Nation’s economy; or
                     How to strengthen protections for employees and retirees of companies and municipalities that seek bankruptcy relief; or
                     The life-threatening public health and safety ramifications of penny-wise, but dollar-foolish budget cuts made by unelected emergency financial managers, as illustrated by the catastrophic Flint water crisis and hazardous condition of Detroit’s Public School buildings.

“These are matters that affect millions of hardworking Americans and that have real consequences, not the illusionary, so-called ‘triple threat’ referred to in the title of today’s hearing. 

“I say illusionary for several reasons.

“To begin with, there is absolutely no empirical evidence that regulations have a deleterious impact on job growth.  In fact, one could argue that a strong, regulatory environment actually promotes job growth. 

“For example, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle assert that the current Administration has issued an unprecedented number of regulations.  Assuming that is true for the sake of argument, how can they ignore these facts -

                     Unemployment has fallen by half since the 2008 Great Recession;
                     The United States is in the midst of one of the longest running streaks of private-sector job creation in history; and
                     14 million new jobs created over the past 7 years.

“And, what about the impact of regulations on wages?  The Economic Report of the President, which was just issued earlier this week, reports that wages grew faster last year than at any time since the Great Recession.

“Admittedly, wages have not increased as much as they should.  But the cause is not over-regulation. Rather, wage stagnation is largely a symptom of workplace inequality fostered by declining union membership and the resultant diminished bargaining power of lower- and middle-wage workers. Sixty years ago, 1 out of every 4 workers belonged to a union.  Now, less than 10% of Americans belong to a union.  In fact, union membership in some states is less than 3%.  

“Declining unionization, according to one study, accounts for between a fifth and a third of the increase in inequality since the 1970s.  And finally, with regard to the illusionary threat that regulations inhibit the creation of new businesses, this too is a canard.  Startup companies, by bringing new products and services to the marketplace, are vital to productivity growth in the United States. And, startups create jobs.  In 2013, startups created more than 2 million new jobs compared with established firms that accounted for over 8 million new jobs.

“Unfortunately, there are real barriers to entry for new companies.  Weak antitrust enforcement over the years has substantially reduced competition thereby allowing larger firms to squeeze new entrants.  In addition, existing firms often lobby for rules protecting them from new entrants.

“Eliminating these real barriers to entry should be our Committee’s priority, not spending yet another hearing dealing with illusionary problems.

“In closing, I want to thank the witnesses for their participation and I look forward to hearing their testimony.” 

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