Lawmakers graded on their resistance to ‘unfair’ government competition

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,  who received a 100 percent score from BCFC for suporting small business. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who received a 100 percent score from BCFC for suporting small business. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Calling today’s federal government “a threat to small business,” a coalition of free-market advocacy groups released its latest report card rating members of Congress by their votes on issues it says demonstrate a commitment to resisting unfair government competition.

The Business Coalition for Fair Competition’s report on the 112th Congress assigns percentage scores to senators and House members based on votes on 10 amendments on such issues as insourcing, health care, the structure of the U.S. Postal Service and public-private partnerships.

"We are seeing an unprecedented level of government expansion into numerous activities that should be left to the private sector,” coalition President John Palatiello said at a press conference. “Government should be the umpire, not the opposing team. Firms in the marketplace should be free to compete against one another, with government assuring a level playing field and imposing only that level of regulation that prevents competitors from injuring each other, or their customers.”

The coalition has long promoted its concept of the Yellow Pages test -- the belief that many of government’s commercial activities are not inherently governmental and should be performed by a private firm. “If an activity is available from a private company found in the Yellow Pages,” the group said in a press release, “that activity should either not be a responsibility of the federal government and, instead, should actually be performed by a private firm under contract with the federal government. Or, another option, is that it at least should be subject to a public-private cost and quality competition to determine which is the best provider."

BCFC's ratings of Congress “are central to understanding who really supports small business and who hides behind the rhetoric of being a friend to the entrepreneur,” said Karen Kerrigan, president and chief executive officer of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. “Competition from government is a real threat and constraint for America's small businesses and the BCFC's vote ratings help separate the friend from the foe."

Among the lawmakers receiving a 100 percent score in the report were Republican vice presidential candidate and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Appearing as allies at the press conference were Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Christian Zur, senior director of procurement policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Larry Hart, director of government relations for the American Conservative Union; Penny Pompei, national executive director of Women Construction Owners and Executives USA; and Manuel "Manny" Rosales, Washington director for legislative and government affairs for the Latino Coalition.

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