Spotlight: Obama Calls for '21st-Century' Regulation

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President Obama has taken to The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page--a self-declared bastion for free market principles--in his latest attempt to win over corporate America and stoke business spending and job growth. The president's column, which announces a review of federal regulations, comes shortly after Obama's lunch date with top CEOs and decision to hire the business-friendly Bill Daley as his chief of staff, and as Republican Rep. Darrell Issa launches a wide-ranging inquiry into which Obama regulations are inhibiting job growth.

In his op-ed, the President explains that, historically, America's free market has thrived when a proper balance is struck between freedom of commerce and regulations that safeguard the public interest--a balancing act that failed because of inadequate oversight and transparency in the run-up to the financial crisis.

So what's the President's plan?

Restore Balance And Economic Growth

This [executive] order requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth ...

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.

Protect Small Business

I am directing federal agencies to do more to account for--and reduce--the burdens regulations may place on small businesses. Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country.

Example of New Approach: Fuel-Economy Standards for Automobiles

When I took office, the country faced years of litigation and confusion because of conflicting rules set by Congress, federal regulators and states.

The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of rules into one aggressive new standard. It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty; for consumers who will pay less at the pump; for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil; and for the environment as we reduce pollution.

Regulations Require a Cost-Benefit Analysis

Our efforts over the past two years to modernize our regulations have led to smarter--and in some cases tougher--rules to protect our health, safety and environment. Yet according to current estimates of their economic impact, the benefits of these regulations exceed their costs by billions of dollars ...

Regulations do have costs; often, as a country, we have to make tough decisions about whether those costs are necessary.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.