Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Obama on regulation

In an editorial in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, the President announced an executive order calling on administrative agencies to work towards "more affordable, less intrusive" government regulation of business. The business world emitted welcoming, albeit distrustful, purrs of approval; consumer and environmental groups, to continue the cat analogy, got their backs up and their fur in a fluff, anticipating another presidential sell-out.

The general consensus, though, is that not much is likely to happen either way. Indeed, it seems most likely that the executive order is nothing but a bit more triangulation, aimed to appeal to "moderates." (Who are those legendary moderates? In my experience, "moderate" is a self-description by those who don't know enough to have an opinion.)

Anyway, if every agency begins the presidentially mandated review of all its regulations tomorrow, scarcely any changes are likely before the 2012 election. Rule changes require hearings, hearings, and more hearings, and every lobbyist and his pet iguana will line up to testify. I figure I'll just ignore the whole thing for now.


Note: Don't miss David Leonhardt's column in today's Times, which discusses reasons the U.S. unemployment rate is so much higher than unemployment rates in other parts of the world, including most of Europe, Japan, China, and Russia.

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