Earlier this week I commented on President Obama’s Op-ed announcement regarding his executive order for “a government-wide review” of federal regulations to remove those “that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” While I discussed my own skepticism as to the President’s motives in changing his rhetoric this time around, I mentioned being hopeful that some of the rhetoric might lead to concrete action in getting rid of at least some bad regulations.
Other commenters were less generous. David Harsanyi writes in an Op-ed in the Denver Post with the rather loaded title “Obama isn’t fooling anyone:”
When Obama was in a place of political comfort, the free market was a place of unhinged self-interest, unfairness and misery. Nearly all of our troubles were portrayed as a case of regulatory neglect – and nearly every dilemma was met accordingly.
Nothing’s changed but the political conditions.
An article in the New York Times cites other skeptics:
“It is the easiest thing in the world for a president or any policy maker to denounce bad regulations and not give any specifics,” said James Gattuso, a senior research fellow in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. Still, he added, “I would rather have the president denouncing bad regulations than not denouncing bad regulations.” …
Mr. Obama’s order is “more of a talking point than a policy,” said Robert E. Litan, vice president for research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., who, as an academic and a federal official in the Carter and Clinton administrations has been involved in regulatory policy for decades.
Analysis over the past two years shows, for many economically significant regulations, the quality of regulatory analysis is generally low, varies widely, and has not improved much between the last two administrations. This condition exists despite decades-old requirements to conduct in-depth economic analysis and use it in decision making.
“The real proof of the new executive order’s results will come when we see how it affects the quality and use of regulatory analysis by federal agencies,” said Ellig. “Agency regulatory analysis could definitely use improvement, and the Mercatus Regulatory Report Card provides a great baseline for assessing what this new executive order will accomplish over the next several years.”
Thus far, the President’s announcement has few believers. If President Obama is serious about reforming the regulatory state, he might want to start by rolling back the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions (for the same reason that cap-and-trade didn’t make it through Congress: it’s a job-killing regulation!) and by reining in his law-school buddy over at the FCC from pre-emptively regulating the Internet.