What Does Obama's Op-Ed on Regulation Mean?

There's some nice talk in Obama'spiece about the need to 'protect the public,' but the President tips his hand when he indicates the need to 'safeguard people and businesses from abuse.'
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Today in the WSJ we catch a glimpse of the administration's stance on regulation, and it's not a pretty picture. There's some nice talk in Obama's op ed about the need to 'protect the public' from the predatory and dangerous practices of businesses, but the president tips his hand when he indicates the need to 'safeguard people and businesses from abuse.' So we need to focus on abuse of business after the worst financial crash since the Great Depression? Really? My god, those banks and their record-breaking profits! How they suffer! Overall, it seems that Obama is trying to score points from what he suggests is a long-suffering business community. That is not the message that the American people -- a quarter of whom are out of a job, underwater with their house, or behind on their mortgage -- deserve to hear.

The op ed, with its neo-liberal celebration of America's great 'free' market (never mind that what we've got is a market captured by oligopolies) perpetuates the specious proposition that if we could just rein in the evil regulators, everything would be much better. Free market fundamentalists have been pushing the idea that regulation is the enemy through a variety of dishonest arguments, from the notion that regulators 'just don't understand' fancy financial instruments and should stay out of it to the particularly offensive canard that regulators kill jobs. Never mind that it was the unregulated financial sector that threw millions out of work in the Great Recession. In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of free market mythology, people lost their jobs because the darned government just wouldn't stop abusing big business.

The president talks about the need to find balance in his op ed. Fair Enough. But it's not businesses that are getting abused. It's the American people.

Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0.

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