Another Obama Donor Complains About Washington's Regulatory Overreach

Another week, another CEO of a major U.S. company publicly calls out Washington, DC for its onslaught of new regulation.

This time it’s Clarence Otis Jr., the CEO of Darden Restaurants, through which position he oversees Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, and other major chains, along with the tens of thousands of jobs reliant on the success of these national brands. This week, Mr. Otis penned a forceful op-ed on CNN.com telling Washington that its regulatory regime is holding back the economy and preventing private job creation.

Writes Mr. Otis:

“Regulatory mandates flowing from federal health care reform may be the most visible, but the list also includes measures such as new mandatory paid leave provisions that require us to change the way we accommodate employees who need to take time off when they are ill and ever more unrealistic requirements regarding employee meal and rest breaks that, in California for example, force our employees to take breaks in the middle of serving lunch or dinner.”

The interesting thing about Otis is that he was a major donor to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and he has been a supporter of some of the administration’s efforts in other areas.

What’s more, small business owners throughout the country share Mr. Otis’s frustration. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently produced a series of web videos of small business owners detailing the impact that burdensome regulations have on their business, including the approximate 4,200 new regulations expected in the coming year.

Greenville, Ohio small business owner Ty Baker-Baumann, recently shared some startling statistics:

“My message for lawmakers in Washington is straightforward: keep it simple. In recent years, small business owners have shouldered the ever-increasing burden of complying with federal regulations. In the past five years, the number of proposed major regulations has increased by more than 60 percent. In 2010 alone, the number of regulations increased by 18 percent.”

Despite recent campaign rhetoric from President Obama about fundamental “fairness,” and about protecting the middle class, this Administration seems hell bent on putting the interests of Federal regulators ahead of American business owners.

Otis said as much – more diplomatically, perhaps, but no less direct:

The difficult reality is that neither our shareholders nor our customers — who are of course, the very working people policymakers champion — can afford the cost of the unbridled increase in regulation we’re experiencing.”

Right now, business owners around the country sure hope the President is listening.

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