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  • Obama on Overregulation: Less than Meets the Eye

    There’s a new regulatory skeptic in town, and his name is Barack Obama. At least that’s the image the President tried to paint today in a bylined opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. The message was clear: Forget the War on Business. That’s so 2010. Say hello to the War on Regulation.

    But is Obama really a born-again regulatory reformer? That, of course, would be good news. After breaking records over the last year in terms of new regulations imposed, a reassessment would be welcome. In his op-ed, the President conceded that sometimes “rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs. … We’re also getting rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements,” he pledged, and will be looking at ways to “avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation.”

    To help do this, the President announced a new executive order launching a 120-day government-wide review of rules now on the books that have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs. Such a review—similar to that undertaken by President George H. W. Bush in 1992 and overseen by Vice President Dan Quayle—would be welcome. But a look at the actual executive order signed by the President this morning indicates that the promising rhetoric has not been matched by real action.

    Rather than require agencies to identify harmful regulations during the next 120 days, or even to eliminate unwarranted rules, the order merely requires agencies to submit a “preliminary plan” for reviewing regulations sometime in the future, with the goal of making their regulatory program either less burdensome or “more effective.” And despite promises of transparency elsewhere in the order, the results of any regulatory reviews conducted are required to be released online only “whenever possible.”

    Moreover, the initiative is hardly “government-wide,” excluding independent agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    This is a phony war on overregulation. Much more robust steps are needed. Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) has already taken the first step, surveying businesses and individuals regarding rules in need of reform. And, in an upcoming paper, Heritage research fellow Diane Katz identifies 20 rules that could be repealed immediately.

    The President, in his Wall Street Journal piece, dismissed the “heated rhetoric” surrounding the regulatory debate. And this certainly isn’t a partisan issue. After all, no President did more to eliminate outdated regulation than Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. Even Bill Clinton, certainly no deregulator, achieved some significant reforms. But to do that, more than rhetoric is needed, heated or not.

    To show that this new initiative is more than talk, President Obama must follow up on his rhetoric with action. He should identify specific regulations in need of reform and require agencies to identify some of their own. He should ask independent agencies to do the do the same and to work with the Office of Management and Budget to assess their impact of their rules. And he should work with Congress to develop legislative reforms to ensure that the tide of regulation can be controlled effectively in the future. Until and unless such specific steps are taken, the President’s words will remain just words.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Obama on Overregulation: Less than Meets the Eye

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      As Rush Limbaugh said today concerning this, if Obama was actually concerned about the federal government weight on the American People, they would get rid of the health care legislation in a heartbeat.

      This is classic federal obfuscations. It is meant to confuse the masses into thinking blue is red and red is blue. It is too bad that the new republican s did not hop on this in a real way before January. Now Obama owns the issue whether he does anything with it or not. This represents an opportunity lost for the Tea Party conservatives. Too bad.

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    4. Bobbie says:

      He did warn us about "just words." And of course the president took the opportunity for more government waste worker. Heritage suggestion to Obama is reasonable, rational and practical to clean the mess made by democrats since 2006…

    5. Bobbie says:

      I'm sorry but I just heard Obama suggest the affordable health care act is moving forward. " we don't want to go backward." totally paraphrased. I'd just like to explain, this health care act is a move backward. This is a free country where people have to take on their personal responsibilities this health care act removes…

      we do want to move FORWARD in FREEDOM without government deceivingly called "affordable health care" corruption holding us back.

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