Death Of A Talking Point? Regulations Actually Create Jobs

Read time: 6 mins

For years, the Republican Party in America has been on a crusade against what they call “job killing regulations.” A quick Google search for the phrase “job killing regulations” returns 368,000 results – many from official Republican Party sources and some others attempting to debunk this talking point.

The phrase “Job killing regulations” has been a consistent battle cry for GOP Congressmembers in their war against workplace safety and environmental protections. True to form, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) echoed this sentiment on Monday with his reference to “job-destroying regulations” in a memo about the Republican plan to further gut the Environmental Protection Agency.

While this talking point is used to berate a lot of different government protections, from checks and balances applied to Wall Street, to product safety laws, to measures safeguarding consumers from dangerous chemicals in food and pharmaceuticals, and so forth.

But most often, the perjorative “job-killing regulations” talking point is used to describe the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) And it has resonated extremely well among an American public that is currently suffering from a severe lack of jobs. As of July 2011, we have an unemployment rate of 9.1%, resulting in almost 14 million Americans looking, but unable to find, a job. For a populace that desperately wants to work but is unable to do so, scapegoating “regulations” has been a very powerful and effective narrative.

Unfortunately for the Republican Party, these “job killing regulations” are a myth. There is no empirical data to back up their claims, but there is a wealth of information available showing that regulations – all regulations – actually promote job growth and put Americans back to work. A new report by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) delivers the latest blow to this popular talking point, demonstrating a direct correlation between environmental regulations and job growth. NESCAUM looked at the Northeast and found that by enacting stricter fuel economy standards and pursuing cleaner forms of energy, more Americans would be put back to work.

From the NESCAUM study:

Employment increases by 9,490 to 50,700 jobs.

Gross regional product, a measure of the states’ economic output, increases by 2.1 billion to 4.9 billion.

Household disposable income increases by 1 billion to 3.3 billion.

Gasoline and diesel demand drops 12 to 29 percent.

Carbon pollution from transportation is cut by 5 to 9 percent.

And this is just for eleven states in the Northeast. A similar trend has been verified in California, where the standards set forth by NESCAUM are already in place.

But in the “Republicans Against Science” age, one study is certainly not enough to undo the damage that this “job killing regulation” GOP talking point has done to America, even when there are numerous other studies to back it up. Increased fuel economy standards already led to the creation of more than 155,000 U.S. jobs, according to the United Auto Workers union.

Last year, while Senate Democrats worked to pass sweeping environmental protection legislation, reports showed that the proposed efforts to protect the environment and invest in green technologies would have provided a boost to the economy by creating several hundred thousand much-needed jobs for out of work Americans.

But even though some of this information has been available to the public for years, many people still believe that any form of environmental protection will come at the expense of American jobs. The reason behind this mass ignorance once again lies with the GOP, which has deployed one of the most powerful echo chambers on the planet, consistently repeating the lie about “job killing regulations” over and over again. Unchallenged in their Fox News and right wing radio echo chambers, Republicans work to convince Americans that they have to choose between protecting the environment or the economy. They are aided by a network of industry front groups funded by polluting companies like ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

During a recent GOP presidential debate, candidate Michelle Bachmann expressed her disdain for the EPA:

“I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.”

See how she used the “job killing” catchphrase? That was not an accident. Frank Luntz would be proud of the message discipline.

Another GOP presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, has said that he would completely do away with the EPA, a sentiment echoed by numerous GOP elected officials. The New York Times recently ran a headline declaring that bashing the EPA was the new “theme” of the 2012 GOP presidential race.

But it isn’t just elected GOP officials and big corporations repeating the talking point. So-called “independent” bloggers and reporters have taken up the mantle of attacking environmental protection as well. A recent piece cross-posted on read: “Obama’s EPA Is Killing More Jobs than Economy Can Create.”

Here are a few comments from that article showing that this talking point is resonating quite well with some Americans:

August 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm
The ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION AGENCY is useless, it just makes our economy worse. Their whole existence depends on pollution and bad mouthing it.

Carolyn Kane
August 27, 2011 at 10:45 am
I am always amazed at how much power the E.P.A. has gained in the U.S.A. none of these people were ever voted in yet they control every part of our lives. I think it is time for people to start looking at everything that they do and if it is even legal.

August 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm
No surprise here. Does anybody really believe that Obama is serious on creating jobs. He is intent on destroying everything possible. Part of the Muslim plan.

August 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm
Uh, the EPA and their regulations didn’t clean up the enviroment, advances in technology caused the decrease of pollutants released into our air and water. Now, the EPA is becoming to the “regulation world” as what unions have become to the working world. Both were needed in the beginning, but now they both are one part of the “big government” ideal of the socialists in Washington.

The list could go on and on. But not only were these commenters going after the EPA, they also re-hashed numerous other GOP talking points from the last few years. You’ll notice that they discuss the “Socialists in Washington” and one even makes the claim that Obama is a Muslim.

This shows just how powerful the GOP’s echo chamber is in American politics, and how selective people are when it comes to picking news sources. After all, there is plenty of credible, easily-accessible information to debunk “job killing regulations” and other talking points.

But if people don’t actively search out the facts after watching Fox or listening to Americans For Prosperity, the echo chamber has done its job misleading the American people. It’s immoral and unethical behavior, and that’s the only job we ought to be killing off.

Get DeSmog News and Alerts


And your qualifications to assess this are, what, nonexistent? Do me a favor, put on a mask, breathe CO2 for 5 minutes, and then come back and talk to us.

So, based on your response, you have no qualifications or expertise in this area. Usual Tea Party BS. Thanks for your confirmation.

The EPA budget in FY 2004, $8,365,420,000.
The EPA budget in FY 2011, $8,682,117,000.
Less than a 1% increase in 7 years.

Number of EPA employees FY 2004, 17,611.
Number of EPA employees FY 2010 (the last year the info is available for) 17,278.
Fewer employees.

The EPA has already been shrinking. Where are all of those jobs the Republicans claim should have been created?

“A quick Google search for the phrase “green bullshit” returns 19,800,000 results.

Case closed.”

Errr. how? Why?


I am yet to see anything true or accurate come from you recycle. Why would now be any different? Lets face facts, you are here to troll. Even your name & plant food’s names are deliberate troll names.

There seems to be a set of trigger words for CWM’s.

Words guaranteed to instantly inflame CWM’s.

Regulations, Tax, Big Gov, Red tape, Bureaucrats,rights, tax payer funded, gov spending.

They don’t even know what or why they are opposing it, but if they see those words, they are trained to bark.

What conservatives & libertarians fail to understand in regards to regulations is, they are just as much responsible for regulations as anyone else.

Most of the time, things start out with freedom & liberty, but things happen to change those freedoms & liberties. Take roads as an example. They start out simple & in many areas. There were no stop signs or indications of what to do at a 4 way intersection. In many rural areas this is still the case today. Yet people somehow safely negotiated the intersection. Then one day an accident happens. If it’s minor they may put a sign there. If it’s more serious, they may put a roundabout/traffic circle or set of lights. Often these measures are ASKED to be put in place by US. Pretty soon, there is lights at every intersection & there are lots of rules. All because something went wrong or someone complained.

The same goes with medicine, hospitals, police, aircraft, banks, supermarkets, etc etc.

After the GFC, who is advocating that the banks need LESS regulation? The banks in the USA with regulations removed stuffed the financial world. The banks here in Australia with tight regulation barely coughed.

We get surrounded & boxed in by more & more rules & regulations, all because something went wrong by accident or someone purposefully did something wrong.

I think people will watch in interest at the proposed Libertarian island that Peter Thiel plans to build an artificial island, where Libertarian values can be realized.

“Details says the experiment would be “a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”

There is a reason why libertarian values or votes never get off the ground. When people spend even 5 minutes thinking of the implications or researching them, they find a recipe for chaos & a place where the rich can afford more people with more weapons.

As the OP points out, data does not support speculations claiming that environmental regulations “kill jobs.”

This is a sub-genre of the “job killing taxes” mantra, which is of course simply a way of justifying avoidance of paying taxes.

A person of average intelligence can easily understand that in the case of environmental regulations, the vast majority of the money in question is never touched by the government, instead flowing completely within the private sector, into private firms specialized in either prevention or remediation of pollution or other environmental degradation. Creating jobs, in other words.

Likewise it does not require genius to figure out that if the government’s revenue is such that it is not retiring debt but is in fact pumping money into the general economy, it cannot be “killing jobs.” The money in question is not simply vanishing.

If an economic sector or unit is chronically driven into lack of profit by taxation then arguably “jobs would be killed,” but on the other hand exemptions if anything overdo the job of correcting for that risk. If there’s any genuine profit to be made, it’ll be sought out and obtained with the assistance of employed staff, we can rest assured of that.

Nah, this is all the same deal as the seagulls in “Finding Nemo.” A flock of greedy birds chanting “mine, mine, mine…” In this case the flock is equipped with more agile mentality.