House Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam gave the suburbs a preview Tuesday of the GOP's anti-regulatory agenda that will be pushed in Washington, D.C., when Congress resumes session after Labor Day.
Roskam, a Wheaton Republican who represents the 6th Congressional District, spent the morning touring suburban businesses -- and the afternoon highlighting their plights before members of the media.
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In the spotlight was an item that has been consumed by thousands of children in the first few days back to school -- a turkey sandwich.
Downers Grove-based Sara Lee says it's hurt by proposed new federal nutrition guidelines aimed at eliminating childhood obesity. The new guidelines would prohibit advertising turkey sandwiches and hot dogs at sporting events and on television programs attracting large numbers of children because of the products' high sodium contents.
"I think the issue most easy to crystallize is the issue Sara Lee finds itself dealing with," Roskam said. "It points out an absurdity, something we need to transcend to create a buoyancy in the economy."
Like Sara Lee, other area companies told Roskam that government regulation is hurting their bottom lines.
At Chicago White Metal Casting in Bensenville, President and CEO Eric Treiber said the 240-person company has an employee who dedicates more than half of his time to complying with government regulations.
"It's a challenge to remaining profitable," Treiber said. "It means we're not going to be able to invest in new equipment, new training."
Oak Brook-based Federal Signal Corp., which manufactures street sweepers at its Elgin facility, asked Roskam for help in gaining exemptions from new engine emissions standards, which company officials say is slowing down production. Roskam promised he would work with other members of the Illinois delegation to help the company.
Leading Illinois Democrats disagree that the way to boost the economy is through easing regulation requirements.
"The state of the economy is not the result of the regulation of emissions ... or the result of regulations to ensure corporations don't pollute," Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin spokeswoman Christina Angarola said.
"The worst economic crisis since the Depression is not going to be solved by giving corporations a free pass to do what's best for their bottom lines without considering the impact of their actions."
With Congress returning from a three-week break Sept. 7, Roskam said House Republicans plan to take up an agenda to "try to wrestle this regulatory environment to the ground."
One component of that effort is legislation that would require Congress to vote on any regulations that have $100 million or more in impact on the economy, an idea that House Speaker John Boehner detailed in a letter to President Obama Aug. 26.
According to Boehner's letter, the administration identifies 219 planned new regulations that have estimated annual costs in excess of $100 million each.
At a breakfast with the Greater Elgin-O'Hare Association of area businesses, Roskam described the federal government's interactions with the economy on three broad levels -- through legislation, spending and regulation.
"The final area is on the regulatory side," Roskam said. "Everyone is looking for remedies, everyone is looking for solutions on how to create more growth. We've got to grow the economy, not just cut government. We can do this."