Posted on 18 Jan 2011
With goal of eliminating rules that stymie economic growth, President Barack Obama plans a government-wide review of federal regulations.
In an article published in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, President Obama said he intends to issue an executive order initiating a review to "make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation," focusing on rules that "stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive." He also suggested future regulations must do their job "while promoting economic growth."
The move is the latest effort by the White House to repair relations with corporate America, hoping to spur investment by the nation's largest multinationals and reduce unemployment.
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.
In recent weeks, the administration has made new efforts to push stalled free-trade agreements with Korea and others through Congress, and signaled its eagerness to consider an overhaul of the U.S. corporate tax code. The president invited chief executives to the White House last month, where they formed task forces to work on specific issues, including export growth and taxes.
On Feb. 7, President Obama will visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—a chief opponent to his administration's regulatory approach—for a discussion on how the White House can work with the group to create jobs. The efforts are designed to give companies more confidence in the president's stewardship of the economy, and bolster his re-election prospects among a wealthy constituency not traditionally allied with Democrats.
In Tuesday's article, the president defended his administration's efforts to strike "the proper balance" between protecting the public and not interfering with economic growth.
The president said the government sometimes failed to meet its "basic responsibility to protect the public interest," citing the run-up to the financial crisis. He also acknowledged the cost of regulation and said that sometimes "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."
He also said: "Where necessary, we won't shy away from addressing obvious gaps: new safety rules for infant formula; procedures to stop preventable infections in hospitals; efforts to target chronic violators of workplace safety laws. But we are also making it our mission to root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb."
For close to a year, the White House has been asking leading business groups in the capital to identify regulations they believe are obstacles to job-creating private investment. But these efforts are being dwarfed by complaints about the administration's unfriendly rhetoric toward the financial industry and large corporations, and regulations stemming from its legislative agenda.
Even some of the president's corporate allies have joined criticism of the White House's regulatory and tax policies. The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives of many of the largest U.S. corporations, last year compiled a 54-page report that includes proposals to streamline rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission, among scores of others. It was accompanied by public criticism from the Roundtable, whose members have frequently advised the White House on the economy.
At the same time, the administration faces pressure from the left not to appear to be too close to Wall Street and corporate interests. Liberals were irked most recently when Mr. Obama tapped political veteran and J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. executive William