Members of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) prepared for their annual visits to Capitol Hill this morning by hearing from a couple of guys who work there.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) speaks at the WDMA's Washington Briefing Breakfast.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) speaks at the WDMA Washington Briefing Breakfast.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) were guest speakers at today’s Washington Briefing Breakfast at D.C.’s Renaissance Dupont Hotel. Both made impassioned pleas for less government regulation.

“The people who come to see me in Washington feel under assault by a government that’s gotten oppressive,” Barrasso said.  “The people who write the regulations have no idea what’s going on.”

He cited  the EPA’s controversial Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule as an example of a well-meaning regulation that puts an undue burden on the people who have to obey  it.

“We’re now spending $2 trillion on regulatory costs,” Tipton said. “There are currently 4,000 new regulations in the pipeline. The government is coming at this from a fine-and-punish vs. help-and-improve aspect. We’re having taxation via regulation.”

Barrasso echoed those sentiments.

“The private sector ought to be the engine of the economy, but this president views the private sector as the enemy of the economy,” he said.

Both Barrasso and Tipton touched on the EPA’s contentious “Waters of the United States” rule, which could establish whether anti-pollution laws are violated if a developer fills in part of a wetland to build a home, for example.

“We’re going to see the cost of building a home go up significantly,” Tipton said. “And that’s on top of today, where 25 percent of the cost of a home is directly related to regulations.”

Tipton also said the Affordable Care Act has failed to lower healthcare costs, and he pointed out that the drive for a $15 minimum wage will hurt those it purports to help.

“We’re going to see  people lose their jobs” to automation and other labor-saving technologies because of higher minimum wages, he said.

All that regulation and indirect taxation is especially damaging to small businesses, Tipton said.

“For the first time, we’re seeing more small businesses shut down than start in this country,” he said. “The only resource the government has is sitting in our hip pockets right now, and that’s money generated by the private sector. Government does not create wealth, it drains wealth.”

Later, WDMA members traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers about legislation that affects the door and window industry.

WDMA’s Kevin McKenney said the association has two priority issues for this year’s session of Congress – energy legislation and the ongoing softwood lumber dispute between the U.S. and Canada.

WDMA wants the Senate to pass the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) with amendments that define the Department of Energy’s role in the code and development process, and require the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to account for the energy efficiency of products such as doors and windows when appraising and underwriting home loans.

The association also wants the Senate and House to support a joint resolution for the fair trade of lumber between the U.S. and Canada to ensure that domestic supplies of lumber can be easily supplemented by Canadian lumber when domestic producers can’t meet demand.

The dispute over softwood lumber is more than 30 years old, and it’s based on a complaint that low Canadian harvesting fees create an unfair advantage in the market. Litigation over duties and tariffs was finally settled in 2006, but that settlement recently expired, and both countries are in talks about how to move forward.

WDMA supports the joint resolution because big swings in the price of wood can hurt housing affordability. Also, WDMA says millions of U.S. jobs are dependent on the sale and use of lumber in many industries.


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