Obama orders regulation review

By Aaron Smith, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- President Obama, in his latest effort to patch frayed relations with businesses, signed an executive order Tuesday intended to "strike the right balance" between health, safety and environmental regulations and economic growth.

The president, in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, wrote that his order will prompt "a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive."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," Obama wrote.

The business world has locked horns with the Obama administration over such legislation as health care and financial reform that the president signed into law last year. In his annual State of American Business address on Jan. 11, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue targeted the "web of red tape" in health care, financial reform and energy regulation as holding back economic recovery.

After his Democratic Party suffered a big defeat in the November midterm election, losing control of the House, the president promised to improve his ties with business.

"As I reflect on what's happened over the last two years, it's one of the things that I think has not been managed by me as well as it needed to be," Obama said in a Nov. 3 news conference.

The president's intention was praised by a representative of the financial services industry, including Donohue.

Donohue, who has clashed with Obama over what he calls a "regulatory tsunami," extended a cautious welcome to the executive order, calling it a "positive first step."

"No major rule or regulation should be exempted from the review, including the recently enacted health care and financial reform laws," he said.

Ken Bentsen, head lobbyist for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said it was "entirely appropriate" for the president to issue an order "to comb through existing rules and cut down stuff that is no longer applicable, doesn't work or is in conflict with existing or new rules."

Also approving was a frequent Obama critic, Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"I applaud President Obama for joining what must be an effort that stretches beyond ideological entrenchments to identify the regulatory impediments that have prevented real and sustained job growth in the private sector," Issa said in a statement.

Obama wrapped up his op-ed column Tuesday with an acknowledgement that regulations are a difficult, but necessary, part of governing the economy.

"Regulations do have costs; often, as a country, we have to make tough decisions about whether those costs are necessary," the president wrote. "But what is clear is that we can strike the right balance. We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another."

Obama's piece was published as he prepared to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House.

Accusations from U.S. officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, that the Bank of China has been artificially controlling the value of its currency, the yuan, are likely to be the centerpiece of discussions. To top of page

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