Politics Trumped Policy, Truth for Obama’s Reelect

Story documents how the White House slow-walked regulations despite denials.

President Obama waves at supporters during a "Moving America Forward" rally in Chicago.
National Journal
Ron Fournier
Dec. 15, 2013, 7:55 a.m.

The Obama White House put polit­ics be­fore gov­ern­ing in 2012, lied about it, and still won’t own up to it. That’s the bot­tom line of a Wash­ing­ton Post story that shows how far Pres­id­ent Obama has de­volved since prom­ising five years ago to change Wash­ing­ton.

Ju­liet Eilper­in opens her story with a bang.

The White House sys­tem­at­ic­ally delayed en­act­ing a series of rules on the en­vir­on­ment, work­er safety, and health care to pre­vent them from be­com­ing points of con­ten­tion be­fore the 2012 elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments and in­ter­views with cur­rent and former ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

Some agency of­fi­cials were in­struc­ted to hold off sub­mit­ting pro­pos­als to the White House for up to a year to en­sure that they would not be is­sued be­fore voters went to the polls, the cur­rent and former of­fi­cials said.

Then she de­scribes the im­pact:

The delays meant that rules were post­poned or nev­er is­sued. The stalled reg­u­la­tions in­cluded cru­cial ele­ments of the Af­ford­able Care Act, what bod­ies of wa­ter de­serve fed­er­al pro­tec­tion,  pol­lu­tion con­trols for in­dus­tri­al boil­ers and lim­its on dan­ger­ous silica ex­pos­ure in the work­place.

Eilper­in’s story quickly re­minds read­ers that the Obama White House is no bet­ter than past ad­min­is­tra­tions about shad­ing the truth. It’s called “spin­ning” in Wash­ing­ton, but to voters it’s just an­oth­er reas­on to doubt the cred­ib­il­ity of their gov­ern­ment and its lead­ers. After be­ing caught sev­er­al times this year mis­lead­ing the pub­lic, Obama’s rat­ings on trust­wor­thi­ness, once a key to his pop­ular­ity, are de­clin­ing.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­peatedly said that any delays un­til after the elec­tion were co­in­cid­ent­al and that such de­cisions were made without re­gard to polit­ics. But sev­en cur­rent and former ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials told The Wash­ing­ton Post that the motives be­hind many of the delays were clearly polit­ic­al, as Obama’s top aides fo­cused on avoid­ing con­tro­versy be­fore his reelec­tion.
Obama’s apo­lo­gists will say that every pres­id­ent plays polit­ics with policy in elec­tions years. Two prob­lems with that. First, Obama prom­ised to be bet­ter than the status quo. Second, he’s worse.

The num­ber and scope of delays un­der Obama went well bey­ond those of his pre­de­cessors, who helped shape rules but did not have the same form­al­ized con­trols, said cur­rent and former of­fi­cials who spoke on the con­di­tion of an­onym­ity be­cause of the sens­it­iv­ity of the top­ic.

And yet, even as Eilper­in scat­ters the house of cards, Team Obama keeps spin­ning.
Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials noted that they is­sued a num­ber of con­tro­ver­sial rules dur­ing Obama’s first term, in­clud­ing lim­its on mer­cury emis­sions for power plants and Medi­caid eli­gib­il­ity cri­ter­ia un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act.

“OMB works as ex­ped­i­tiously as pos­sible to re­view rules, but when it comes to com­plex rules with sig­ni­fic­ant po­ten­tial im­pact, we take the time needed to get them right,” Cain said.

Eilper­in calls them out.

But Ron­ald White, who dir­ects reg­u­lat­ory policy at the ad­vocacy group Cen­ter for Ef­fect­ive Gov­ern­ment, said the “overt ma­nip­u­la­tion of the reg­u­lat­ory re­view pro­cess by a small White House of­fice” raises ques­tions about how the gov­ern­ment writes reg­u­la­tions. He said the amount of time it took the White House to re­view pro­posed rules was “par­tic­u­larly egre­gious over the past two years.”

Pre­vi­ous White House op­er­a­tions have weighed in on ma­jor rules be­fore they were of­fi­cially sub­mit­ted for re­view. But Jef­frey Holmstead, who headed the EPA’s Of­fice of Air and Ra­di­ation in the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the ef­fort was not as ex­tens­ive as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach.

Read the full Post story here.

Read a pres­ci­ent Na­tion­al Journ­al story from 2012 “Obama’s Ad­min­is­tra­tion Sits on Key Reg­u­la­tions.”

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4628) }}

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×