In today’s New York Times, Jeff Zeleny writes that the White House is considering “a new moratorium” on regulations that affect the economy. Zeleny predicts the proposal could sow discord between Obama and his base of progressive supporters:
The president intends to offer at least some progressive proposals to help regain a fighting posture that he has not had since the health care debate, but a provision is also being discussed to place a new moratorium on some regulations that affect the economy, excluding health care and financial rules. The proposals are likely to infuriate an already unhappy Democratic base.
Such a proposal would — if true — further anger progressive policy advocates who rightly note smart regulations have helped make the country stronger (ie, child labor laws, the Clean Air Act, and protections against hidden credit card fees).
But in a statement issued today, White House spokesman Clark Stevens flatly denied the Times’ reporting:
Those reports are false. The Administration has a strong record of implementing smart, sensible steps that protect consumers, public health, and the environment. While the President has made clear that we must continue to ensure that new regulations are based on common sense, and implemented in ways that do not impede our economic recovery, he has also made clear that he will not accept the false choice of either having prosperity or clean air, clean water, and safe food. Americans deserve both, and we will continue to take steps that provide those protections, while fostering economic growth.
If what Obama announces is simply a progressive approach of streamlining duplicative, outdated, or ineffective regulations, then the proposals are unlikely to “infuriate” the base, as Zeleny predicts. But following an ill-conceived decision to overrule his EPA on an ozone pollution standard, progressives do have reason to be concerned and are watching with a careful eye.