Americans are by nature dreamers and optimists. They believe in hard work and simply want the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their family. Americans want the chance to, as the old saying goes, "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." However, these days our country's competitiveness is faced with some very real challenges. Challenges not from China, India, or other emerging markets, but rather from our own government's web of regulations, rules and taxes.
Ask anyone running a small business in Florida these days whether trying to adhere to federal regulations has gotten easier or harder over the past few years. In fact, I speak with business owners in our state every day who say the constant flood of regulations is redundant, unnecessary, and place a disproportionate burden on smaller businesses.
Yet each year thousands of new regulations are proposed by our government, costing the U.S. economy jobs and untold amounts of revenue. Today there are more than 4,000 federal regulations in the pipeline, 854 of which that directly impact small businesses. So it should come as no surprise that American small businesses are actually less concerned about foreign competition than they are about federal government regulations hindering their ability to compete.
This is why 90 percent of small business owners support reforming the current regulatory system, according to a 2012 National Federation of Independent Business survey. America's small businesses and the American people have had enough of the political inertia. President Obama, Congress, Democrats and Republicans all share some blame for the slow economic recovery and the red tape businesses face each day.
When he came into office Gov. Rick Scott recognized the burden over-regulation was placing on small business and has been focusing on cleaning up Florida's regulatory scheme and removing the barriers to small business growth. Earlier this year, he even stewarded a tax exemption that will help small manufacturers purchase new equipment, grow their operations and hire workers - a great example of how government can invest in the future by getting out of the way.
Last month Florida's unemployment rate dropped to the lowest we've seen since 2008. At 7.1 percent, it sits well below the national unemployment rate of 7.6 for the third month in a row.
Maybe Obama and his administration should take a page from Scott's book on how to kick-start the economy by helping small businesses.
The time has come for the president and Congress to show genuine leadership on this issue.
Bill Herrle is executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Florida.