|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
A leading big-business group, responding to a request from top White House aides, last month submitted to President Obama's Office of Management and Budget a 54-page hit list that takes aim at regulations protecting the environment, workers, consumers and investors.
Having asked the Business Roundtable for its advice, the White House was then faced with the question of what to do with it.
Discussions between the two parties are ongoing, the White House says. And their conclusion may depend on who wins the ongoing power struggle between the president's top political gurus and his policy apparatus.
The push to placate business leaders is being led by Obama's political team -- in this case, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
But just like the advice the White House politicos are giving Obama about pressing forward with deficit reduction in the midst of a jobs crisis, the idea of loosening the reins on big business -- at a time when the cost of deregulation has been so viscerally on display in the Gulf of Mexico -- strikes some observers as spectacularly tone-deaf. Not just bad policy, but bad politics.
"What we're in the middle of is a string of regulatory failures that the Obama administration seems very insensitive to," said Rena Steinzor, a law professor at the University of Maryland and president of the pro-regulation Center for Progressive Reform. She cited the financial crisis, the Massey Energy mine disaster, and of course the BP oil spill.
Steinzor told the Huffington Post she suspects Obama's political team is not motivated by the optics in this case, nor by an overwhelming devotion to the free market -- but rather by money.
"They want campaign contributions. They want to win," she said. "I think they definitely are trying to make sure that they don't fall behind in the fundraising race. I think they're quite worried about that," she said.
"If I were them, this isn't what I'd be worried about. I'd worry about people being so angry about BP that they wouldn't vote for the president."