Unfair government competition hurts local business By Senator John Thune Most people agree that fair competition between businesses that provide similar goods and services is a positive thing for consumers. Competition results in lower prices and better products and gives businesses a chance to build a good reputation in their community. Unfortunately, local businesses are facing unfair competition from the federal government. When South Dakotans need to find a service, we turn to the phone book or the Internet and find a local business. Today, however, more and more federal agencies are unnecessarily duplicating services that are also provided by businesses in communities across the country. This pits the ever-growing resources of the federal government against privately owned businesses, grows the federal workforce, and harms local economies. I have introduced a bill, the Freedom from Government Competition Act (S.1167), that would require the federal government to rely more on private businesses when providing services that are readily available. My bill calls for a "Yellow Pages" test, which means that if a service currently provided by a federal agency can be found in the Yellow Pages, that service should face competition from private business. My bill does not privatize any government function, but rather gives private businesses the opportunity to compete for work that federal agencies unnecessarily handle in-house. If the local business can offer a service at a lower cost and a higher quality, taxpayers deserve a better deal. Of course, there are certain functions I believe are inherently governmental, like homeland security, foreign policy, and prosecution. My bill would not affect those vital functions. Businesses across South Dakota and across America are struggling, and I believe the government should enact policies that help businesses create private sector jobs instead of standing in the way. The federal government provides many services that are already found in the private economy, and these services divert resources and attention from more pressing government tasks, and taxpayers deserve better. My bill gives private businesses in South Dakota and elsewhere equal footing to compete for government business while keeping jobs and revenue in local communities, which is where they belong.