Hickory Daily Record: Business community says government regulations stunt growthPosted by Staff on February 25, 2011
By John Dayberry
Published: February 25, 2011
HICKORY -- Uncertainty about government regulations already in place and others that may be coming are hampering economic growth and stifling efforts to create jobs, area business leaders said Friday.
About two dozen representatives of various business and industry sectors in the Greater Hickory Metro voiced their concerns to U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R, 10th District) during a luncheon meeting at the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce. Participation in the roundtable discussion was by Chamber invitation.
Discussion topics ranged from The Durbin Amendment, which would allow the government to control the swipe fees set by large credit card companies; to the Industrial Boiler MACT Rule, which regulates boiler emissions at thousands of U.S. manufacturing facilities.
A common concern was health care reform. From bankers to health care administrators, participants in Friday’s discussion said that while they recognize that health care overhaul is necessary, new reforms under President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are cost-prohibitive to business, and will probably cause some companies to drop health care coverage of their employees.
“Are we stuck with what we have?” asked David Boone, chief financial officer of Catawba Valley Medical Center.
“Laws can be undone,” McHenry said. “It’s really up to the American people.”
McHenry said that while a bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, efforts to undo pieces of the legislation and to delay implementation dates have been more successful.
“We encourage you to chip away at it if outright repeal is not possible,” said Phillip Moore of Wells Fargo Bank.
Dean Proctor, owner of United Beverages of N.C., said the government’s health care overhaul did not address the financial impact of obesity and smoking, and asked if it isn’t time the federal government addressed those issues.
McHenry said rather than give the government control in such matters, people should maintain the right to smoke and overeat, but should have to pay through higher insurance premiums.
He said the Affordable Care Act is but one component in a flawed system of entitlements that will have to be addressed by Congress.
Bill Parrish, regional director for the N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center, said health care reform is a big issue, but that the uncertainty caused by government regulation is an even bigger issue.
“The continued debate and its longevity is having a detrimental effect on capital markets and consumers alike,” Parrish said.
“To the people here today, it’s something very real.”
In response to a question about trade imbalances, McHenry said the United States must develop a cohesive manufacturing agenda that cuts health-care costs, limits government regulation, creates a business-friendly tax structure and decreases the threat of groundless lawsuits.
“Even with all our problems, we’re still three times larger than the next largest economy,” McHenry said.
Michael Durham of Piedmont Natural Gas asked McHenry if Congress will likely take up new energy legislation.
“I think we’ll definitely see action when it comes to energy,” McHenry said.
“Most of my constituents drive and are very concerned,” he said. “Domestic exploration of oil and gas where it is, new refineries. I do think you’ll see this approach. It’s what I’ve been pushing.”