Least surprising sub-headline of the day

Does government regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect minimal.

You mean Republicans haven’t been telling the truth about all those “job-killing regulations.”  The Post gets the crazy idea of talking to economists on this score:

House Republicans have identified 10 “job-destroying regulations” they want to repeal, and a steady stream of bills have been proposed to block environmental rules governing everything from cement plants to boilers. GOP candidate Mitt Romney has vowed that on his first day as president, he will “tear down the vast edifice of regulations the Obama administration has imposed on the economy.” The White House, meanwhile, says it is making a determined effort to assess how rules are affecting jobs.

The critique of regulations fits into a broader conservative narrative about government overreach. But it also comes after a string of disasters in recent years that were tied to government regulators falling short, including the financial crisis of 2008, the BP oil spill and the West Virginia mining accident last year.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that very few layoffs are caused principally by tougher rules.

Whenever a firm lays off workers, the bureau asks executives the biggest reason for the job cuts.

In 2010, 0.3 percent of the people who lost their jobs in layoffs were let go because of “government regulations/intervention.” By comparison, 25 percent were laid off because of a drop in business demand…

Economists who have studied the matter say that there is little evidence that regulations cause massive job loss in the economy, and that rolling them back would not lead to a boom in job creation.

Firms sometimes hire workers to help them comply with new rules. In some cases, more heavily regulated businesses such as coal shrink, giving an opportunity for cleaner industries such as natural gas to grow.

“Based on the available literature, there’s not much evidence that EPA regulations are causing major job losses or major job gains,” said Richard Morgenstern, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan think tank Resources for the Future who worked at the EPA starting under the Reagan administration and continuing into President Bill Clinton’s first term.

Look, there’s legitimate differences between how Republicans and Democrats think government should function– especially the role it should play in a modern economy.    Republicans clearly must think of they were honest about their positions, it would be a huge electoral loser, because we sure get a lot of unsubstantiated hokum.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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