Obama's Deregulation Dance with Wall Street

With a new Republican Congress falling all over itself to hand corporations whatever they want, it was only a matter of time before some politician turned up in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, breathlessly describing the “dazzling” and “path-breaking” nature of the free market, and vowing to get rid of regulations that have placed “unreasonable” burdens on businesses.

We just didn’t think it would be Barack Obama.

But the man who couldn’t give an executive order to halt dismissals of gay and lesbian members of the military has apparently issued an order to review regulations that stifle job creation, or place unreasonable restrictions on business, or—and these are his own words—are “just plain dumb.”

Obama’s words at times echoed U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue, who called for regulations to be “swept away”–and who cheered the hiring of Wall Streeter Bill Daley as White House Chief of Staff. For more on Donohue and the Chamber, check out our series “The Loaded Chamber” at our website.

Reality check: Deregulation or lax regulation, let’s not forget, led to the BP oil spill that Naomi Klein notes is still wreaking havoc on the ocean floor. It permitted ultimately deadly practices to continue at profit-mad Massey Energy. A Mine Safety and Health Administration official called those 29* miners’ deaths  “preventable” this week.

And the point is, while there are always “dumb” rules you can dig up and make fun of, what’s raging in the U.S. isn’t a political fight over dumb stuff.  What’s raging right now is a very real fight over government, and its role in protecting the public and the public sphere, and the relative power of private profiteers. And in that fight, well, the argument is part of the point.

The President and his advisers may think that getting ahead of the GOP on “releasing businesses from regulations” may steal their thunder and dull the U.S. Chamber and Donahue’s political bite. But as blogger Melissa McEwan said “Spoiler alert! Corporate America still won’t like you.”

Given the choice between a Democrat who gives in most of the time and a Republican who gives in all of the time, corporations will still go with the latter. And isn’t the president supposed to work for the rest of us?

*Video version of this commentary says 22 deaths–it is actually 29.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor ofAt The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on Facebook.

AlterNet / By Laura Flanders

Posted at January 19, 2011, 12:59pm

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