Trucks at Work

Is there a regulatory backlash in the making?

The ongoing contentious debate over several regulatory efforts initiated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for the trucking industry – especially its Compliance Safety Accountability(CSA) program and hours of service(HOS) reform – may actually form part of a wider “backlash” or sorts against government rulemaking, if a recent poll is any guide.

The so-called “non-partisan” government reform coalition Common Good conducted a nationwide survey from a sample of registered U.S. voters earlier this month (between October 2 and 4, actually) and discerned that  large majorities (64%) think complicated government rules and regulations are “major impediments” to job creation.

The Clarus Research Group, which conducted the study for Common Good, interviewed 1,296 self-identified registered voters via live telephone interviews via landlines and cell phones, also found that  87% support what’s being dubbed “periodic spring cleaning” where government rules are concerned, expressing a belief that "there is a need for Congress to go through old laws, regulations and programs on a regular basis to eliminate those that are no longer needed or that may not work as originally intended."

All demographic groups in the survey––gender, race, age, income, party, region, and education––strongly support such a periodic review, added Philip Howard (seen below), founder and chairman of Common Good.

“American voters see complicated government regulations as impeding job creation and want them simplified," he said. "With so many Americans unemployed, it's time for our elected officials to unite around this concept."

Here are two other findings from this poll, one of which carries big implications for the trucking business:

  • 57% of voters nationwide support the idea of a "one-stop shop" for small business approvals and permitting.
  • 59% believe Congress should create an infrastructure “super-authority” to reduce permitting and regulatory delays so that new transportation, energy, and environmental projects could be approved within one year of application.

Now, do such findings mean that Americans want to completely “rip up the rule book” so to speak? Hardly.

But I do think it indicates that it’s an indication of a growing feeling that too many rules – and complicated ones at that – are causing a large amount of drag on the U.S. economy. Indeed, that’s a subject I discussed of one of my older posts.

Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see whether a populist “backlash” against regulatory effort continues to gain traction or loses steam as election day draws ever closer. 

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