Earlier this week, President Obama took the remarkable step of penning an op ed piece for the Wall Street Journal. His topic was regulation, or more pointedly, the risks of unnecessary or contradictory regulation.
This would seem to be a part of his recent pivot towards the political center. The topic plays to the business community who struggle with regulation every day. His tone was reasonable, which plays to how we all want our President to sound. And it was rich in symbolism—even the placement in the WSJ was carefully crafted. In terms of currying favor with independents, the piece was probably a success. These voters will read articles about the piece—or even the piece itself—put a tick in the credit column and get on with their lives. But is there more there than just a political feint? The President has identified a real problem. And his call for a government review of regulations sounds like a good idea. The question I have is this: Who in government is conducting the review? This is important as regulatory agencies view their job as crafting and enforcing regulation. Asking these very same agencies to now offer up regulations for sacrifice will require super-human levels of self-reflection. In other words, it ain’t gonna happen. There is a solution. Establish an independent, bi-partisan commission—along the lines of the deficit reduction commission—to look into the issue, solicit suggestions and make recommendations. This just might work. It is something the President should try if his op ed piece is to be more than soothing noise.