President Obama hosted a reception at the White House yesterday for the National Governors Association, and he spent a fair amount of time at the event, delivering some remarks but also engaging in some Q&A with attendees. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) brought up the idea of “regulatory reform” and the possibility of the White House working with governors on a “regulatory review” process.
The president said he would, but he also spent some time talking about misplaced assumptions about his policy agenda. After noting the extensive work his administration has already done in getting rid of wasteful regulations and unnecessary government paperwork, Obama reflected on his ideology – or in this case, the lack of an ideology.
“I do not believe in regulation for regulation’s sake – contrary to rumor. This idea that somehow I get a kick out of big government is just not the case. The truth of the matter is, if something is working without us being involved, we’ve got more than enough to do without getting involved in it. We really do. It’s not like I’m waking up every morning thinking, ‘How can I add more work for me?’ I don’t think that way.”
As part of the same answer, the president added, “Even on some of the big regulations you hear about that you don’t like, they’re not issued unless we think that the benefits substantially outweigh the costs. And we have the numbers to prove it. So for those of you who think that I’m just a big government, crazy liberal, we’re actually – we crunch some numbers around here. We take it very seriously.”
I haven’t seen any reactions to the president’s remarks from congressional Republicans or the GOP presidential candidates, but I suspect they would scoff. They know in their bones, reality be damned, that the Obama White House has expanded economy-crushing regulations that strangle free enterprise and prevent robust growth.
And how did they arrive at this conclusion? Because Obama is a Democrat, and that’s just what Democrats do.
Love him or hate him, Barack Obama is a pragmatic technocrat. [emphasis added] He doesn’t support a larger public sector just for the sake of having a larger public sector. He doesn’t support more spending just for the sake of spending more. He doesn’t support taxes for the sake of taxes. And he doesn’t regulate just for the sake of regulating. All available evidence suggests the president is looking for ways to solve problems he believes deserve remedies.