Remarks at a White House Briefing on Regulatory Relief and Small Business

February 4, 1982

I just have an opening statement here, and then we'll turn you over to the Vice President and this august group.

An essential part of this administration's program for economic recovery is revising or eliminating Federal regulations that place needless burdens on people, businesses, and State and local governments. As we strive to control taxing and spending, we must also cut back government regulations that are anticompetitive, excessively stringent, or just plain unnecessary.

Federal regulations and paperwork impose a particularly heavy burden on the new businessman and the small businessman. Small firms don't have the luxury of large staffs to fill out government forms, and they can't afford high-powered Washington lobbyists.

Large corporations also pay a high price for unneeded regulations. Much of the burden takes the form of growing budgets for lawyers and accountants, costs that are handed on to the consumer. But the men and women who run small businesses must shoulder these burdens directly. Often they are the only ones who know enough about their companies to complete all the detailed government forms, leaving that much less time to do what they do best -- managing their organizations and developing better products and services.

A vigorous small business sector is essential to a productive and competitive economy. For all of the talk in Washington about government creating new jobs, most of the new jobs actually created are in small private enterprises. Between 1969 and 1976, 82 percent of all the new jobs were in businesses employing a hundred or fewer employees, and 66 percent were in companies with 20 or fewer employees. Currently 38 percent of our gross national product is produced by small business, and small business continues to be our most prolific source of innovation. So, this administration's regulatory relief program, headed by Vice President Bush, is paying special attention to regulations that come down hardest on small firms.

In a moment I'll turn the lectern over to the Vice President, who will announce a new series of deregulatory initiatives focused on the concerns of small businesses. But first I want to say a few words about the Information Collection Budget for Fiscal Year 1982, which is being released this morning.

The Information Collection Budget, or paperwork budget, sets limits on the burdens imposed in the private sector by Federal forms and recordkeeping requirements. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 most Federal forms and recordkeeping requirements must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

One of the requirements for approval is a sound estimate of the total workload measured in hours. The form will impose on all of the individuals who will have to fill it out an important step in realizing annual reductions in paperwork by streamlining or eliminating forms.

We've made some real progress. When I took office Americans were spending over 1\1/2\ billion hours each year filling out forms and records to satisfy Federal laws and regulations. Think of it. That's a workload greater than the entire work force of the automotive industry. We will be eliminating nearly 200 million hours of this wasteful burden by the end of the year, a reduction of over 1 hour of costly paperwork for every man and woman in the United States. This means a savings of productive effort equal to that of 95,000 people working 40 hours a week for an entire year. And, as the details in the budget illustrate, many of these savings come from reducing tax and regulatory forms that are unusually burdensome to small businesses.

These paperwork reductions are a good start, but they're only a start. The budget that we're releasing this morning still does not document all of the Federal paperwork that must be identified and reduced. And, as you will see in a moment, many of the issues that are being designated for revision by my Task Force on Regulatory Relief are based upon complaints from small companies about unnecessary paperwork.

So, now I'm going to turn over the proceedings to Vice President Bush to discuss these issues with you. And thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:26 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.

The 66-page document mentioned in the President's remarks is entitled ``Information Collection Budget of the United States Government -- Fiscal Year 1982.''