- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Like so much of President Obama’s agenda, the promise of regulatory reform has proved entirely empty. After Democrats received a beat-down at the polls last November, an executive order was dashed off promising to pare back the job-killing regulations being pumped out by federal agencies that the president said “were just plain dumb.” On Friday, House Republicans called Mr. Obama’s bluff.

Executive Order 13563 set a deadline of May 18 for preliminary plans from departments and agencies to streamline operations and repeal those dumb rules. Mr. Obama basked in widespread praise for his bold initiative. On Friday, however, regulatory czar Cass Sunstein was forced to admit to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that a grand total of one agency had bothered to comply; the National Labor Relations Board had submitted a one-page document in response. “We learned today that the Obama administration’s much celebrated regulatory reform simply does not exist amongst the independent agencies,” said a disappointed Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s William L. Kovacs testified in very concrete terms how the administration’s regulatory excess is killing jobs. Two coal-fired power plants - one in Oregon and one in New Jersey - shut down rather than install hundreds of million of dollars worth of equipment mandated by an Environmental Protection Agency pursuing an extreme anti-industrial policy. “This is a highly disturbing trend, and one that will only continue in 2011 with the issuance of even more major rules,” warned Mr. Kovacs.

A 2010 Small Business Administration study placed the total cost of federal regulations at about $1.75 trillion annually, costing businesses an average of $8,086 per worker and rendering employers extremely leery of adding staff.

For his part, Mr. Obama brushed off the bad economic news on Friday, telling autoworkers at a Chrysler plant in Ohio that the figures were “bumps on the road to recovery.” What Mr. Obama describes as bumps looks to Americans like massive mountains as far as the eye can see.

A survey released by the global business advisory firm Alix Partners reported Friday that 61 percent of Americans don’t expect to recapture their pre-recession lifestyles until the spring of 2014 or later. More alarmingly, 10 percent said they’ve given up hope of ever recovering financially.

That dark assessment of the future stands in sharp contrast to past belief in American exceptionalism when the United States was viewed as the land of opportunity. The Obama administration is filled with ideologues who don’t believe in free enterprise or the spirit of individualism. Instead, they believe they know what’s best for everyone else. They have no interest in dialing back the regulations regardless of the harm being done to the economy as a whole. In this fashion, the American dream is morphing into a collectivist nightmare. The only hope is that the American public wakes up by 2012.