AP: Regulations Are "Not A Huge Jobs Killer"

October 12, 2011 2:12 pm ET — Kate Conway

Bloomberg/Washington Post GOP debate

As analysis of last night's GOP presidential primary debate trickles in, one thing is abundantly clear: The participants' attempts to disguise their economic illiteracy didn't fool credible economic analysts.

Businesses and economists have been saying for months now that the primary obstacle to job creation is a lack of demand, but their warnings have fallen on deaf ears as congressional Republicans persist in blaming "regulation" and "uncertainty" for reluctant hiring. In last night's debate, the candidates parroted that line, prompting the Associated Press to fact check the claim. The verdict: "The numbers" don't support the charge that "regulation [is] strangling the American entrepreneur":

Is regulation strangling the American entrepreneur? Several Republican presidential candidates say so. The numbers don't.

The anti-regulatory fervor was in evidence Tuesday night in the latest GOP debate, but rhetorical flourishes, on that and other issues, masked far more complex realities. [...]

Labor Department data show that only a tiny percentage of companies that experience large layoffs cite government regulation as the reason. Since Barack Obama took office, just two-tenths of 1 percent of layoffs have been due to government regulation, the data show.

Businesses frequently complain about regulation, but there is little evidence that it is any worse now than in the past or that it is costing significant numbers of jobs. Most economists believe there is a simpler explanation: Companies aren't hiring because there isn't enough consumer demand.

Add the Associated Press' fact check to the host of evidence from other news agencies and economic experts representing a direct affront to the GOP's anti-regulation rhetoric. Credible reports that support the Republican line, on the other hand, are not nearly so forthcoming.