The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, United States Senator from New York, characterized presidential candidate Bill Clintons endorsement of welfare reform as boob bait for Bubbas. More specifically, Clinton had promised to end welfare as we know it. Moynihan saw it for the deceptive ploy that it was: a cheap way to act tough and win votes from more conservative working class voters.
As I see it, yesterday in the pages of the Wall Street Journal Barack Obama offered his own cynical reform proposal by throwing his army of regulators under the bus for a news cycle. President Obama and his new crony capitalist fixer, chief of staff Bill Dailey, offered up some boob bait for corporate Bubbas: a toothless proposal to eliminate needless bureaucracy while making big business feel like someones listening.
I heard one reporter on the Wall Street Journals internet video channel, The News Hub, assert that the symbolism of the presidential proposal was more important than whether it accomplished anything. Somehow it signaled that he is moving to the center. Are you kidding? I want to see the nitty gritty details that make up this marshmallow not hear about meaningless symbolism.
Apparently, the President signed an executive order on Monday requiring that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. It ordered a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. Wow, nobody ever thought of this before.
This is laughable. There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pages of regulations, and the Obama Team is just going to go in and remove the outdated regs that stifle job creation.
This makes me wonder how many hundred attorneys are working on this project? Because it would take hundreds of attorneys a very long time to evaluate the entire body of regulations and determine whether they are overlapping, burdensome, or costly. Who is running this project? What is his or her name? What are the deadlines for producing a list of executive orders, regulations, and statutes that need to be changed or eliminated.
Dont hold your breath waiting for the answer. Mondays White House effort was almost completely public relations driven. Sure, there may be a few show piece regulations that are rescinded, but all this is intended to give cover to one of the largest onslaughts of regulation ever attempted by any administration. Talk of reforming the bureaucracy and government 2.0 while exploding the scope and cost of regulations, thats the way to get ready for 2012.
This is serious business for the White House because its heavy handed medical reform law, investment-killing financial reform law, and environmental regulations, to name a few, may have crushed the hopes for business investment to fuel a re-election needed economic recovery. As Elizabeth Williamson aptly notes in her Wall Street Journal story on the Obama initiative:
Business leaders say an explosion in new regulations stemming from the president's health-care and financial regulatory overhauls has, along with the sluggish economy, made them reluctant to spend on expanding and hiring. Companies are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash and liquid assets, the most since World War II.
Yes, business is on strike waiting to see the result of the next election, and small businesses, the engine of hiring, appear to be in the bunker wating for November 2012. They are voting with that $2 trillion, and Mr. Obama isnt winning this race.