Cutting Red Tape

Eliminating rules and regulations that are unnecessary and prevent things from being done quickly and easily

Cutting Red Tape

Cutting red tape: the first image popping into people’s heads is businesspeople cutting a long, red ribbon with a massive pair of scissors. However, that’s not what the phrase “cutting red tape” means in a political context.

In politics, “cutting red tape” means reducing bureaucratic business obstacles. Where does this phrase come from, and how does it relate to politics? That’s what this article is for.

“Where Cutting Red Tape” Comes From

The phrase “cutting red tape” is often used for legal processes, but where does it come from, and what does it have to do with the law and politics?

After researching, experts said the phrase originated in the 16th century when the King of Spain used red tape to bundle documents needing immediate attention. The king had to physically cut through the red tape to read these crucial documents.

Over time, possibly due to delays in working through the monarchy, the phrase “cutting red tape” gained its current meaning of reducing bureaucratic obstacles for businesses. The phrase can also be used for legal processes like accessing benefits and claims.

What Does Red Tape Have to Do with Politics?

Now that everyone’s learned the origin of the phrase “cutting red tape”, it’s time to discuss what red tape has to do with politics.

When discussing red tape, people are discussing regulation in businesses. Some regulations are necessary to keep people safe, like food labels and fuel efficiency. However, having too many regulations can affect job growth and the economy. So, what role does red tape play?

Much like the physical red tape the King of Spain had to deal with, the metaphorical red tape is an obstacle many businesses and politicians must overcome. When the red tape is cut, that creates job growth and economic opportunities.

Some states have fewer regulations than others. For example, Idaho has the fewest regulations at around 39,000, while California has the most at around 400,000. That’s a lot of regulations for people to remember. Thus, some find it ideal to cut the red tape via reforms.

Hagerty-King-Portman Legislation

In January 2022, the US Senate unanimously passed the Hagerty-King-Portman legislation; the House of Representatives passed it six months later. This legislation promises to reduce the time it takes to get permission to build semiconductors and other manufacturing facilities in the US, aka “cutting red tape”.

This will create more jobs in America, reshore supply chains essential to US national security, and cut dependence on China and other foreign countries.

The United States is not the first to introduce such reforms. Reforms in British Columbia, Canada, started in 2001 and led to fewer regulations. In the 1980s and 1990s, British Columbia was the worst-performing major province in Canada for GDP.

Following the reforms, British Columbia turned into a top performer for GDP. Due to these reforms, British Columbia is now known as one of Canada’s healthiest and most pristine provinces.

Regulations are necessary to keep people safe, but too many can hurt job growth and the economy. If a country wants its economy to grow and gain more jobs, it’s time to cut the red tape.