January 29, 2011
Obama's New Pose: Fake Right, Sucker-Punch LeftBy Chuck Rogér
After Barack Obama delivered his January 12 speech scolding the American left for politicizing the Loughner shootings, one of my readers warned that Obama was leveraging the occasion to draw attention from the presidential destruction of "an entire culture's hard earned lifestyle." The reader added, "Barry learned in basketball, fake a goal shot with the right hand and score with the left one."
Obama's recent Wall Street Journal op-ed showcases some dazzling new fake shots. The president begins by discussing the importance of balancing "freedom of commerce" with "rules and regulations." He illustrates with a mixed bag of "successes."
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.
Child labor laws constituted a reasonable response to the atrocious conditions in turn-of-the-twentieth-century factories. In contrast, the Clean Air Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law are poster children for unintended consequences.
Initially, 1977's Clean Air Act produced sorely needed environmental regulation. But by 1995, the EPA was abusing manufacturers for dwindling environmental gain. Now the agency is ratcheting up the abuse by handcuffing industry with scientifically baseless emission caps aimed at stopping a twelve-millennia-long warm-up of Earth's atmosphere since the end of the last major ice age. On the financial reform front, Dodd-Frank addresses none of the Wall Street excesses that fueled the subprime mortgage meltdown. The law serves largely to open pathways for Washington to play financial nanny to Americans.
Obama declares that regulations can "stifle innovation and have a chilling effect on growth and jobs." Some pundits intimate that the president has discovered conservative principle. More sober thinkers find it hard to accept that left-wing Obama understands, much less believes, his own words.
The real Obama, savior Obama, protests that there have been times when government "failed to meet [its] basic responsibility to protect the public interest, leading to disastrous consequences." Most Americans understand that it's not government's responsibility to "protect the public interest" by rendering it impossible for said public to choose poorly. But faithful to the progressive narrative, Obama disagrees, implying that more regulation would have prevented "the financial crisis from which we are still recovering." The president doesn't acknowledge that heavy-handed regulations born of the mantra of homeownership "fairness" created the crisis. President Carter and a Democrat Congress enacted -- and then President Clinton and a Republican Congress turbocharged -- the Community Reinvestment Act, an ideology-driven vehicle for forcing mortgage lenders to qualify unqualified borrowers.
For four paragraphs, Obama's op-ed substitutes smoke and mirrors for facts and logic. Then the president abandons any semblance of objectivity, claiming that "the goal of [his] administration has been to strike the right balance" between burdening business and protecting Americans. Amazingly, Obama almost certainly believes that his agenda epitomizes "balance." Ideologues cling to special truths despite the truth.
Our president announces an executive order requiring:
... that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. It's a review that will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules[.]
In other words, drain the swamp that is Washington, D.C. and start over. Yet two years of hyperbolic anti-business rhetoric and an explosively expanding regulatory regime cast suspicion on Mr. Obama's seriousness.
Obama criticizes governmental abuses applied to artificial sweetener and baby formula but ignores wealth-destroying "global warming" regulations. Pointing up the president's tenuous foothold in reality, the Wall Street Journal observes, "It isn't a good omen that Mr. Obama singled out the EPA and its carbon-emissions rules (as related to auto fuel efficiency) as a model of 'smart' regulation."
Fantastical statements and insincerity dominate the president's op-ed. He promises to use "disclosure as a tool to inform consumers of their choices, rather than restricting those choices." Brazenly, indeed breathtakingly hypocritical. Obama's EPA under Environmental Justice dogmatist Lisa Jackson, the Energy Department under the curiously bent Dr. Chu, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the arrogant Dr. Berwick, the "media balance"-obsessed, ideologue-infested FCC, and the big nanny FDA have been quietly building a quality-of-life-reducing regulatory hell.
The deception continues.
Obama claims to want to lessen "the burdens regulations may place on small businesses." Such guile infuriates America's entrepreneurs. Indeed, the president's administrative appointees have heaped burden after burden on business. Only action, not quixotic words, can soften the distrust that Obama has earned among achievers.
Near the end of his op-ed, President Obama nullifies what few points he could have scored with people who've been looking for reasons to trust the man.
Despite a lot of heated rhetoric, 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.
Creating hundreds of thousands of pages of rules that spawn unprecedented levels of bureaucratic ineptitude and private-sector intrusion will make it easier for Americans to earn money? Anyone who so reflexively disfigures truth cannot be trusted.
Voters soundly rejected Obama's untruths last November. Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi provides a helpful perspective on the President's op-ed.
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.
Obama's basketball hands are now busy working overtime to produce the illusion of a political epiphany. A genuine light-bulb moment would have rendered the president responsive to facts similar to those which produced the epiphany in the first place, facts like why China's economy grew by 10 percent in 2010 while the rest of the world languished in recession. Former Western Asset Management Chief Economist Scott Grannis, now a blogger, marvels that "the Chinese growth engine just keeps on chugging. It's amazing what can happen when a government unleashes market forces in an economy that was formerly highly regulated and suppressed."
Has Barack Obama seen the light? Will he dismantle his dream of Washington-based know-it-alls regulating American business to bring about idyllic American life?
We cannot afford to take the faker at his word.
A writer, physicist, and former high tech executive, Chuck Rogér invites you to visit his website.