President Obama calls for a 21st-Century Regulatory System in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. What that would look like, according to the President, is a system of “regulations [that] protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth.” To accomplish this ambitious agenda, the President announced he would sign an executive order which…

… orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.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 President is swiftly striding towards the middle. Since the midterm elections, President Obama has adopted a  different rhetoric and made several symbolic moves to signal to the business community and skeptical voters that, despite all of the interventionist policies having come out of the White House these past two years, the administration understands that hampering the private market means less employment and economic growth. In the President’s own words:

We’re looking at the system as a whole to make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation. 

The Heritage Foundation published a very informative report in October, listing the new federal regulations having been implemented in 2010 alone and adding their associated costs, which total 26.5 billion. Excessive regulation stifles business investment, hiring, and economic growth, and there is clearly an urgent need today to clear the economy of some of the most burdensome and costly regulations.

Nevertheless, I find it difficult to cheer on the President for taking this crucially important step towards attempting to ease the burdens on businesses and consumers that arise from the regulatory state. Recent moves by Obama-appointed regulators in agencies such as the EPA and FCC speak against the President’s rhetoric. Additionally, news such as the “Obama administration’s revolving door” leave me wondering whether the President’s executive order will be more fluff than substance and will lead to cutting those regulations that don’t have much of an impact while leaving the more disastrous ones in place because they benefit the President’s cronies.

I am tentatively hopeful that President Obama’s rhetoric, targeting voters in the middle of the political spectrum, will result in positive actions to the benefit of the American economy and the American people. Only time will tell whether the President is serious about getting America back on track towards strong economic growth, or whether he is simply trying to make friends with big business to support his re-election campaign in 2012.