1) Ann argues persuasively that Obama’s decision was terrible politics. But it is also terrible economics. As the Shrill One pointed out the other day, we are currently in a liquidity trap, i.e. there is not enough demand in the economy to pull us out of the recession, and a lot of money is simply sitting on the sidelines, uninvested, for fear that there will be no customers. Under these conditions, new ozone rules are actually a net positive for the economy because they will force businesses to spend money, which is what we desperately need. Of course, as the Economic Policy Institute pointed out a few months ago, the scale of these rules is so small in the context of the whole economy that it’s not a huge stimulus, but if you’re looking for stimulus under these conditions, this is precisely what you want.
2) So over this past weekend I’ve had something of a cold: lots of sneezing, runny nose, the works. I could have gone through several boxes of tissues, but then I came upon an old “Environmentalists for Obama” t-shirt that I bought during the 2008 campaign. It worked great! I’ll make sure to tell everyone else who has one…
The fact of the matter is that the Obama Administration has essentially been thumbing its nose at its most dedicated supporters since March 2010, and in a lot of ways even before then. It appears to believe that punching hippies is the way to re-election, and as much as I despise this decision, I hope that it is right. But this is nothing new.
3) I wonder whether Cass Sunstein had any influence in this decision. I suspect that he did. Now, Sunstein is one of the great legal scholars of this or any generation: could he actually have pushed for something so stupid? Well, if you take his comments in the New York Times the other day, the answer is yes:
“My view is that the Republican claim that ‘job-killing regulation’ is a redundancy is as ridiculous as the left-wing view that ‘job-killing regulation’ is an oxymoron,” said Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “Both are silly political claims that have no place in a serious discussion.”
As Digby notes, it is simply fatuous to think that there is anyone on the left in the United States who believes that “job-killing regulation” is an oxymoron. No one thinks this. Who in the world is Sunstein talking about? Many people on the Right think that “job-killing regulation” is a redundancy: Perry and Bachmann want to get rid of EPA altogether. House Republicans have essentially declared war on EPA and the Department of the Interior. Nobody on the Left thinks the opposite.
Sunstein has been saying some pretty vapid things recently on environmental regulation in any event. He even compared the Clean Air Act to a Stalinist Five-Year Plan. He seems to spend lots of time trying to get Richard Epstein to agree with him, which, come to think of it, isn’t a bad description of the President’s political strategy, also.
When in doubt, blame the University of Chicago. That’s actually not a bad rule of thumb.