FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Most Business-Friendly President Ever?

On Tuesday, Barack Obama made the case for easing regulations in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The article, titled “Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System”, was accompanied by a caricature of a scissor-wielding businessman slashing-away at red tape, a symbol that is revered among anti-regulation zealots. In the opening paragraph, the president praises free market capitalism (“the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known”) and Wall Street (“vibrant entrepreneurialism is the key to our continued global leadership”) while taking aim at the “burdensome” restrictions that prevent speculators from maximizing profits. Even by the administration’s abysmal standards, the article is a new low, which is why the WSJ editors mockingly critiqued Obama’s op-ed as “one of the greatest policy walkbacks in American history”. Here’s a clip from the text:

“Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs……Over the past two years, the goal of my administration has been to strike the right balance. And today, I am signing an executive order that makes clear that this is the operating principle of our government.

This order requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. It’s a review that will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades.”

The tone of the article strongly suggests that it wasn’t deregulation that triggered the financial meltdown, but all those pesky rules that inhibit innovation and growth. This is pure revisionism and Obama knows it. But he also knows who he is talking to when he takes a spot on Murdoch’s editorial page; rabid right-wingers who think business can do no wrong. That’s why Obama skips the liberal blather altogether and reiterates themes that read like the daily printout of GOP bullet-points. Here’s how the WSJ’s economics editor David Wessel summed it up:

“Mr. Obama told agencies to scour the books for obsolete rules…..Within 120 days, each agency is to devise “a preliminary plan…to periodically review its existing significant regulations” to see which should be “modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed.”

So now the onus falls on the agencies to “prove” that businesses are not in compliance. That will make it harder to stop bad behavior or to penalize offenders. Obama’s remedy will also extend compliance dates, offer more exemptions, and force regulators to make their judgments on stricter cost-benefit analysis. It’s just one roadblock after another. The net result will be fewer rules, more pollution, a more dangerous working place, more financial fraud, and a general watering down existing regulations. No wonder the Journal’s editors are so elated over Obama’s transformation. He’s abandoned any pretense of serving the public’s interest.

It’s clear, the Obama team is worried that the president hasn’t been sufficiently servile to win big business’s backing in the upcoming 2012 presidential campaign. So they’re pulling out all the stops to show that they can be bigger suck-ups than their Republican rivals. According to Bloomberg, there will be more pandering in the State of the Union Speech; a “call to promote greater accountability in the educational system” (charter schools), an “overhauling of the tax system” (a regressive flat tax), and “cuts to Social Security benefits”. (the steady evisceration of a retirement safetynet) All of these will be wrapped in Obama’s populist rhetoric and invoked as a way of “fighting unemployment”. Obama might just turn out to be the most business friendly president in US history.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

 

 

More articles by:

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail