While Obama mentioned his review of regulations to ensure they help the private sector and do not hinder it, he continued to insist that regulation is a worthy endeavor.
“America’s businesses have a responsibility to recognize that there are some basic safeguards, some basic standards that are necessary to protect the American people from harm or exploitation. Not every regulation is bad. Not every regulation is burdensome on businesses,” Obama said.
Obama quoted a past American Bar Association president as having denounced child labor laws as “a communistic effort to nationalize children.” The audience laughed softly.
But Boehner referenced what has now become a regular GOP talking point regarding the executive order on regulations that Obama signed last month: it exempts the health care and financial regulation bills, and also gives agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency discretion to determine on their own whether a regulation is appropriate or not.
“Far from changing tack, his administration is taking steps to protect the job-crushing regulations in its health care and permanent bailout laws, while plotting a backdoor national energy tax,” Boehner said.
Obama invited input from private sector leaders, saying that “if there is a reason you don’t share my confidence, if there is a reason you don’t believe that this is the time to get off the sidelines — to hire and invest — I want to know about it, I want to fix it.”
He is set to get an earful. Earlier in the day, Republicans on Capitol Hill released 2,000 pages of letters from businesses detailing all the ways they believe the administration’s regulatory regime is inhibiting growth.
Obama ended with an anecdote about a former president’s attempt to mend fences with the business community: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who after years of Depression and his New Deal policies had developed a “fractured” relationship with business.
The president said that the U.S. recovered as Roosevelt and the private sector partnered, though much of the demand that drove that growth was the result of the country’s needs as World War II began.
Obama said the same could happen now.
“We know what to do. We know how to succeed. We are Americans,” he said.
Republicans such as Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican and chairman of the House GOP Policy Committee, said that the president should demonstrate with his actions that he means what he says.
“If President Obama were dedicated to making America ‘the best place on earth to do business,’ he would begin by acknowledging the failures of his policies, the dangers they pose to economic growth, and by all means, not reinvent them under a new slogan,” Price said.