Obama’s Ideological Illusion

It’s happening.

It started with the ill-advised compromise with Republicans over the sunsetting of the Bush tax cuts. Even in that maneuver, however, the Democrats managed to hold out with regard to unemployment benefits and clouded the question of whether or not Barack Obama would make like former President Bill Clinton and drift to the center following a disastrous mid-term election and in anticipation of a title defense just two years away.

Now, however, there can be no question. At the memorial service for the victims of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, President Obama struck a decidedly middle-of-the-road tone in urging all of America to fight the tendency to polarize the political debate. After speaking for years about the fallacies of traditionally conservative economic policies, Obama has in recent weeks embraced them, going so far as to acknowledge that alleviating the tax burden for the wealthiest Americans indeed translates into job growth.

Today, Obama himself took to a usually critical Wall Street Journal to tout the merits of the free market and point out the trouble caused by excess regulation.

For two centuries, America’s free market has not only been the source of dazzling ideas and path-breaking products, it has also been the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known. That vibrant entrepreneurialism is the key to our continued global leadership and the success of our people.

But throughout our history, one of the reasons the free market has worked is that we have sought the proper balance. We have preserved freedom of commerce while applying those rules and regulations necessary to protect the public against threats to our health and safety and to safeguard people and businesses from abuse.

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.

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.

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.

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.

For instance, the FDA has long considered saccharin, the artificial sweetener, safe for people to consume. Yet for years, the EPA made companies treat saccharin like other dangerous chemicals. Well, if it goes in your coffee, it is not hazardous waste. The EPA wisely eliminated this rule last month.

A bewildered Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary under George W. Bush, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning and asked, “where is our president, and what have you done with him?”

And the media is starting to follow suit.  From a January 17, 2011 piece in the New York Times about a consensus reached by a collection of America’s governors, many of whom face state-level budget crises like never before:

The prescription? Slash spending. Avoid tax increases. Tear up regulations that might drive away business and jobs. Shrink government, even if that means tackling the thorny issues of public employees and their pensions.

Fox Business Network’s Jon Stossel, however, apparently misinterpreted the Times piece as an ideological sea change by the Old Gray Lady, going so far as to call it “a turning point.”

I know that’s absolutely true, and probably fair reporting on what most governors had said.  But I never expected to see such fair coverage in the New York Times.  I don’t know the writer, Monica Davey. Maybe she’s just an unusual Times reporter.

Or maybe — this is my hope — the need for smaller and simpler government has become so obvious that even the clueless liberals are starting to get it.  Wouldn’t that be great?

Alas, it would be fantastic.  It would also be great if I could pass the Bar Exam without studying, or if my checking account balance somehow found a few more zeroes on the left side of the decimal point.  Great, indeed, but unrealistic.  While it is certainly refreshing to see such material and such a perspective in the New York Times of all places, I would offer that what we’re seeing is merely an attempt by the mainstream press to be complicit in the reluctant pragmatism of the most liberal chief executive this nation has ever seen.

The stark reality is that this administration, while outwardly projecting an air of pragmatism and interest in fostering job and employment growth through traditionally conservative domestic policy, is still working behind the scenes to find and implement extra-legislative solutions and means by which it may execute the same agenda it has proffered from the days when Barack Obama spoke atop the first-ever Seal of the President-Elect of the United States of America.

At the end of November, in a piece entitled EPA Continues Extra-Legislative Cap-and-Trade Push, I wrote on these pages about how the administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency, was looking to undercut the legislators who shelved cap-and-trade policy by adopting more strict regulations on coal ash by classifying it as “hazardous waste.”  Essentially the same was done for Carbon Dioxide in 2009.

And it’s happening again, despite the fun language about outdated and cumbersome regulations in the president’s op-ed piece.  Just last week, the EPA directly interfered with the livelihood of thousands of Americans and the ability of this nation to satisfy its energy needs by revoking permits for a large coal mine in West Virginia.  From Fox News:

A move by the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the long-standing permits for a mammoth coal mine in West Virginia sends a strong signal that President Obama plans to implement key parts of his agenda even though newly empowered Republicans can block his plans in Congress.

In the aftermath of the November elections, many political pundits predicted that the once-unchecked Obama legislative machine would turn it’s energies to federal rulemaking as a way to circumvent Republicans on Capitol Hill. And the EPA’s decision last week suggests that those forecasts were spot-on.

Much to the consternation of the West Virginia delegation in Congress, the coal industry, and the working people of the Mountain State, the agency took the unprecedented step of revoking a mining permit that it had issued four years ago to Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia.

The revocation prompted unusually harsh responses from West Virginia’s two Democratic Senators.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller sent the president a letter which read, in part: “I am writing to express my outrage with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to veto a rigorously reviewed and lawfully issued permit at the Spruce Number 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia. This action not only affects this specific permit, but needlessly throws other permits into a sea of uncertainty at a time of great economic distress.”

Sen. Joe Manchin issued a statement which appeared to mock the EPA’s permitting process.

“According to the EPA, it doesn’t matter if you did everything right, if you followed all of the rules,” Manchin wrote. “Why? They just change the rules.”

After the resounding defeat in 1994, Bill Clinton actually did maneuver his way to the center, and in the years following he worked with Republicans on issues which would normally never pass the desk of a modern Democrat president, such as welfare reform.  This administration is different.  Nothing has changed, and any indication to the otherwise is classic smoke-and-mirrors, a bait-and-switch intended to lull Americans into a false sense of centrism.

It worked for Bill Clinton in 1996.  This time, looking to the actions and not the words of this president and his administration to shed light on what is really going on, Americans need to be more vigilant.



  1. Randy Wills says:

    A “true believer” whose goal is the “fundamental transformation of the United States” is not about to moderate or modify his goal, only his tactics as the political landscape changes.

    Everything, including the Left’s reaction to Tucson, is aimed towards 2012.


    P.S. Go, Mike Pence.

  2. Congress MIA says:

    EPA…, cessation without representation. Get used to it, Rockefeller.

  3. Devilishy clever of the Progressives to cast BHO as their “good cop” in the “big lie.” The problem for them is he has a record this time. Oops.

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  4. Gail B. says:

    Obama’s lips were moving. You know what that means, and so does SC Rep. Joe Wilson.

    I watched (with steeled nerves and pursed lips) a speech by Sen. John Kerry last week. He said, in essence, that global warming and cap & trade didn’t go over very well and that “we” would approach it from another direction — creating jobs and focusing on environmental issues, to make it more attractive for the American people.

    In other words, same song, second verse! Sounds like he’s been reading Edward Bernays and boning up on propaganda (today’s term for “public relations”).

    Oh, I so don’t trust that man!

  5. Gail B. says:

    If Obama came out and said he was born in Kenya, I’m not sure I’d believe him. He’d have to have an ulterior motive for doing so.

  6. I see C your 02, and raise you says:

    While you’re repealing ObamaCare, repeal the EPA.

  7. Joe Biden says:
  8. The campaigning has begun. This is mere strategy to fool the masses. Someone who surrounds himself with revolutionaries and takes over 1/6 of the economy is not inherently centrist. (You want to talk about “easing” regulations? Repeal ObamaCare……)

  9. Anonymous says:

    In that photograph, Barack appears an obstetrician, delivering his beloved Cloward and Piven baby, communism.

  10. Dee says:

    I believe that BO has started campaigning for the 2012 election. It started in Tuscon with the “Together we can Thrive” tee shirts that were handed out and will continue until the 2012 election is over. He will suddenly find religion and attend church, he will shed tears and his lip will quiver. He may vacation in the good old USA and there will be numerous family photo ops including with the dog. He will “feel our pain” and may even lower his chin. None of the damage that he has already done will be repealed and he will thoughtfully (cough, cough) listen to the other side, although he will not give in to anything that will change his ultimate plan. Once again the kool aid will be poured and those with stars in their eyes will drink it.
    Stay focused and be aware of what happens.

  11. matt says:

    Maybe it is just me, but I think if I were West Virginia I would encourage the coal mine to keep operating, show the EPA to the door and oversee to the protection of my own environment.

  12. Cap & Trade Grades says:

    A young woman was about to finish her first year of college.
    Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a
    very Liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was
    very much in Favor of higher taxes to support more
    government programs, in other Words redistribution of

    She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch
    Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the
    Lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional
    chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for
    years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he
    thought should be his.

    One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to
    higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government

    The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors
    had to Be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He
    responded by asking how she was doing in school.

    Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a
    4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain,
    insisting that She was taking a very difficult course load
    and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go
    out and party like other people She knew. She didn’t even
    have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many
    college friends, because she spent all her time studying.

    Her father listened and then asked , ‘How is your friend
    Audrey doing?’ She replied, ‘ Audrey is barely getting by.
    All she takes are Easy classes, she never studies, and she
    barely has a 2.0 GPA. She Is so popular on campus; college
    for her is a blast. She’s always invited to all the parties
    and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes
    because she’s too hung over.’

    Her wise father asked his daughter, ‘Why don’t you go to the
    Dean’s office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and
    give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will
    both have a 3.0 GPA, and certainly that would be a fair and
    equal distribution of GPA.’ The daughter, visibly shocked by
    her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, ‘That’s a crazy
    idea, how would that be fair! I’ve worked really hard for my
    grades! I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work!
    Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She
    played while I worked my tail off!’

    The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, ‘Welcome
    to The Republican party.’

    ======== communism sucks ==========

  13. Peaceful disobedience says:

    Matt at 4:08 is correct.

    Keep on truckin. Not enough willing federal types to lock us up for doing something that makes even their lives more comfortable and affordable.

  14. Order your tees now says:

    2:28 Just One Term… And We Can Thrive

  15. graypanther says:

    At this point, 9:04, I have to admit: I am sick and tired of all this “One and Done,” “Just One Term,” “Take a Broom to the White House,” or whatever. It is rhetorical slacking and nothing but easy, wishful gratification.

    That insistence ducks a central fact of American presidential politics: no president will be elected, in 2012 or in any year from now forward, without the support of the Asians, blacks and Hispanics. In the long term we are heading for a nation that is more than 50% colored people; in the short term, a percentage less than half is high enough to tip any national election toward the party that makes the appeal. I ask, as I have asked again and again since the beginning of this century: what are the Republicans doing to capture this fraction of the electorate? What are they doing to shed their well-earned reputation as the Party of the Old White Guy? And I respectfully submit that, if they’re maneuvering to implement a strategy by 2012, canning Michael Steele was not a great start.

  16. Anonymous says:

    2012 try content of character

  17. L. Banks says:

    Thanks Jeff for your writing on this subject. Obama has not changed. His rhetoric is softer, but what is he saying…nothing really. It is in his actions that he continues to move toward taking away more of our personal freedoms and preparing us for total subjugation to the state and then to a one world government. The signs are all around us. I wonder if we will really have another Presidential election since this current year is critical. Our country is in debt over $14 Trillion dollars with our bond rating in jeopardy – crisis! The cost of oil and gas is rising and what better way to add to the burden of each individual than to limit the production of coal which is used to provide heat and electricity to homes – crisis! Go to your supermarket and see how much food prices have risen and they affect all of us and what better way to control the population than through the food supply (by the way Obama did not mention the poisonous products such as aspartame which is hidden in many foods and affects the central nervous system. My eye doctor told me he had to stop drinking colas with aspartame as he was having constantly having migraines and when he stop taking in aspartame they stopped.) – crisis, crisis! The race card since Obama knows race is a key to creating and escalating violence among men, he uses it. Forcing people to pay retribution or try to balance the scales in some way never works. It just creates more dependency, more brain washing and less responsibility for one’s own actions – crisis! I think there are too many areas where a big explosion could occur and Obama will use it. The idea being if there are riots, people will want peace so they will sell their very souls for this “government” peace. Since Obama has always been part of the socialist and “New Party” Movement including being a chairperson, he and his cronies have been laying this ground work for years in anticipation of this moment.

    America in her earliest beginnings was called the “New Zion” and it was believed that God was a partner in the creation of this great country and that America would be the country foretold for many years and be an example to all others. Our current history books make no mention of these facts and twist the facts or eliminate them entirely. It is time to return to the principles of the founding fathers and the constitution which they intended to be the blueprint for every age.

    Greypanther brings up the point that people have to address the different races and appeal to them. I contend that this truly is merely fueling racism because it does not credit the intelligence of people regardless of race, creed or color. What is needed is education on the issues and education in American government and the constitution. If not, they will continue to be pawns for either party.

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