American Elephants

Is The Era of Big Regulation Over? Don’t Bet On It! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has written an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.  He announced a new executive order to restore “balance” to federal regulation and search out rules that impede job creation and economic growth.

Not his regulations, mind you; but for example, he mentioned the defunct EPA rule that treated saccharin as hazardous waste. After a political voter rebuke largely based on regulatory overkill, he needs to show some willingness to take his foot off the gas.  He is, he says, willing to concede that he dimly hears the screams of anguish from the business community.

Liberals have refused for years to hear the complaints from the business community that their agenda created uncertainty and harmed the economy. Today, they woke up to discover their leader on the hated editorial page of the Wall Street Journal — saying that there might be “unreasonable burdens on business — burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”

President Obama goes on to tell us how effective all his regulation for the auto industry was.

The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of conflicting rules into one aggressive new standard [on the fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks].  It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty, for consumers who will pay less at the pump, for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and for the environment as we reduce pollution.

There is so much wrong with that statement that it is breathtaking. Singling the EPA out as an example of “smart” regulation is telling.  There is no agency of government that is more busily issuing useless regulations that do incalculable damage.  But it helps to make it clear that any moves toward reform of regulation will be tactical and cosmetic, rather than substantive.

President Obama believes in regulation. He believes in lots of regulation.  You simply cannot have ordinary people and businesses acting without the heavy hand of wise government to keep them from making foolish decisions and taking unfortunate actions.  Government knows best.  Obama is demonstrating a measured cosmetic move to the center, and a new cosmetic civility. Pay no attention to his words — pay attention to his actions when Congress tries to temper the administration’s regulatory overreach.

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