Those who, in the wake of the 2010 elections, foresaw a Clintonesque Obama administration that tried to “triangulate” policy positions, the President’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal serves notice that… well, they may have been right.
First off, it’s in the Wall Street Journal, where the opinion page is widely recognized for leaning rightward. Second, it describes an effort to strip federal bureaucracies of some layers of red tape:
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… This order requires 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 And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.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, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades.
It’s one thing to be pro-business, but the allusion to crony capitalism could be right out of a conversation with a hard core tea partier or Ron Paul. It gives the impression of an understanding of open markets that many Republicans don’t quite get. Much like Bill Clinton’s pronouncement that the “era of big government is over,” it absorbs conservative messaging – in fact, it echoes an executive order President Reagan made to trim regulatory costs 30 years ago.
The real policy that comes from this proclamation won’t necessarily be as business friendly or economically stimulating as the President is boasting. But this is a message to the crucial middle ground of the American electorate – who don’t equate their center-right political views with a party identification and are pre-disposed to like Obama. Appealing to these voters (especially when the other side still lacks a viable contrast) is the stuff reelections are made of.