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Obama's Executive Order to Overhaul Business Regulations

Obama wants a government-wide review of all business regulations. Is this cover for deregulation, or an opportunity to do it right?

President Obama has signed an executive order for a government-wide review of business regulations with an aim to eliminate or remove obstacles to growth. It could mean widespread deregulation as a concession to the business community he sparred with during financial and health care reform debates, or it could be a chance to get regulation right for a change instead of what he calls the "patchwork" system in place now, the result of "tinkering" by past administrations.

In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal President Obama laid out his reasoning for the move.


From child labor laws to the Clean Air Act to our most recent strictures against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, we have, from time to time, embraced common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.

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. At other times, we have failed to meet our basic responsibility to protect the public interest, leading to disastrous consequences. Such was the case in the run-up to the financial crisis from which we are still recovering. There, a lack of proper oversight and transparency nearly led to the collapse of the financial markets and a full-scale Depression.

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.

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The New York Times called it "courtship of the business community." While Michael Livermore, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU, a think tank that supports strong health and environmental regulations, applauds the move.

The Obama administration has consistently shown an insistence on pragmatism over ideology in regulatory matters and these comments demonstrate a doubling down of that attitude. Cost-benefit analysis is here to stay as government’s central vehicle for making regulatory decisions—with this morning’s essay the President makes that much clear.

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Read the president's full essay here.

Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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