Obama’s surprise move to block an ozone regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) followed immense pressure from industry trade associations, which made numerous personal appeals to White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
Daley met with the heads of several business groups more than two weeks before Obama withdrew the regulation — an unusual level of senior White House involvement in the regulatory process.
“We saw that as a positive — his level of interest, him sitting in on these meetings, him weighing in on this issue within the administration,” Johanna Schneider, executive director of external relations for the Business Roundtable, told The Hill. “I think it’s emblematic of his role in the administration as part of the outreach to the business community.”
The Business Roundtable wrote to Daley directly on July 15 and urged him to void the proposed ozone regulation. Schneider said Daley’s attention to the rule made it a top priority at the White House.
So the news that Daley has now been effectively demoted, together with the new review of the Keystone XL permit, may indicate that Obama might kill the project. After all, as Jonathan Chait notes, Daley’s view of Obama’s political problems, i.e. that they stem from being insufficiently solicitous to business, have turned out to be completely wrong. Obama political fortunes have recovered somewhat since he began taking a more populist tone since Labor Day.
The President might well decide that he should help his own environmental supporters, who have threatened to pull campaign contributions and stop volunteering if he supports the pipeline project. (The LAT story that this comes from is horribly sourced, so I need to find out more). Given that saving Wall Street’s bottom line has earned him no support there, it just makes political sense.
Obama has shown simply horrible judgment in his choice of advisors: Tim Geithner, Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, Bill Daley. The cossacks work for the Czar. But all Presidents learn on the job, and to paraphrase Dr. Johnson, nothing concentrates the mind so wonderfully as the prospect of a general-election defeat.