Restarting the economy and encouraging job growth are two of the main issues voters feel passionately about this midterm election. And yet, judging by the performance of the Federal Government’s Headquarters, prospects for entrepreneurship are glum.

Washington, D.C. is far from being a shining city upon a hill considering how the district discourages entrepreneurship with its vast web of red tape. This October, the Institute for Justice (IJ) released a series of eight reports showing how anti-competitive and irrational regulations stifle entrepreneurship in U.S. cities.

Washington, D.C. was one of their case studies. The city was ranked “Least Friendly Policy Environment for Entrepreneurship” in 2009 by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and IJ’s report sheds some light on why that is:

  • Washington, D.C.’s vending laws strangle creativity by micromanaging the size of vendors’ carts, where they may operate, and even what kind of food they may serve.
  • Permitting in Washington, D.C. is an absolute mess. Although stories of corruption get the headlines, it is the complex permitting process and District bureaucrats’ indifference that crushes too many entrepreneurs’ dreams. Too often, what should be a simple task turns into an expensive and time-consuming ordeal because of confusing rules and contradictory orders given by different officials.
  • The District’s confusing and complex regulations force too many entrepreneurs who would like to operate as a home-based business to either give up or operate in secret. No one should have to get a license before they write a book or paint a picture in their home.  

Small and large businesses are the engines of economic growth and sustainable prosperity in an economy. If we want to see lower unemployment numbers, than the above 9.5 percent we have endured over the past 14 months – the longest stretch since the 1930s -, we need encourage entrepreneurship and business growth by cutting the stifling red tape and by reducing, not increasing, employment regulations.

Midterm election candidates wanting to get a head start on how to get the economy rolling and jobs flowing again should take a look at IWF’s Agenda for Women for some productive ideas that will benefit America’s men and women.