Visual source: Newseum
Brad Plumer on the cave by the Obama administration on implementing stricter EPA rules:
[T]he White House announced that it’s not going to have any new rules. On a call with reporters, White House officials argued that it doesn’t make sense to put out new rules in 2011 when there’s going to be another scheduled review of the ozone science in 2013.
But critics say that this reasoning is flawed. For one, notes Amy Royden-Bloom of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, if the EPA did issue a new ozone standard this year, then it could always just postpone its next scientific review until 2016, in line with the law. Second, notes Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch, there’s no reason to think that a brand-new ozone standard will actually be issued by 2013. That’s just when the scientific review is due. Crafting new rules will take longer than that, given the inevitable delays and lawsuits. “I’d say three years, minimum,” says O’Donnell. (When I asked White House officials about this, they said they weren’t sure how long it would take.) And third, says Paul Billings of the ALA, it’s not clear that the science on ozone and human health will change dramatically between now and 2013 — if anything, the case for regulating ozone is likely to get stronger. [...]
Not surprisingly, business groups are pleased with this prospect. “This is an enormous victory for America’s job creators,” the Chamber of Commerce announced today. The White House, meanwhile, is trying to deflect criticism by pointing out all the other new EPA regulations they’ve been moving forward with. But this move looks like it could leave a lasting rift between the White House and its environmental base.
The Washington Post also pounces on the latest capitulation:
ON MONDAY, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) set the fall agenda for the GOP House. Tops on his list was the delay, weakening or repeal of 10 “job-destroying” regulations, seven of which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing.
On Friday, the White House announced that it was halting the EPA’s work on one of those seven, an update to federal rules on ozone pollution. Speculation ensued about President Obama blinking in the face of GOP pressure and postponing a politically tough decision past the 2012 elections. The White House insisted that it was merely doing what Republicans accuse it of refusing to do: minimizing unnecessary regulatory burdens. The EPA is planning to revise the ozone rules again for 2013 or shortly thereafter, officials argued; why force businesses to adapt twice in two years?
What is clear is that the “job-destroying regulation” line is a better slogan than it is an expression of the real trade-offs involved in EPA regulation. Aside from ozone pollution, EPA rules under development would restrict the emission of mercury, acid gases, dangerous fine particles and other pollutants from power plants and other sources. These regulations have costs that can be predicted and measured, in jobs and dollars. They also have measurable benefits — lives saved, chronic illnesses prevented, hospital visits avoided and sick days not taken, which in turn have economic effects.
Jared Berstein on the Republican "jobs" plan:
What I see instead is rehashed, discredited trickle down, supply-side ideas…such measures have a terrible jobs track record, though they have been effective in redistributing wealth upwards. What we have here is a thinly disguised effort to map their permanent tax cut and deregulatory agenda onto “jobs programs,” hoping no one will notice where that map led us when we followed it during the Bush years.
As noted, their ideas seem to fall into two categories: tax reform and deregulation. And neither will move the needle on jobs one bit.
As it turns out, holding disaster relief hostage for political gain is causing tension within the GOP:
Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's call for budget cuts to pay for damage caused by Hurricane Irene didn't sit well with another prominent Republican.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie broke with his party's fiscal conservatives, saying his state's cleanup from the deadly storm can't wait while lawmakers battle over the budget.
Christie lashed out at Cantor's remarks after touring flood-stricken communities this week. His impatience exposed a rift between a Republican governor who must respond to urgent needs of residents and the hard-line stance on budget discipline taken by members of his party in Washington.
Is the zero rate of job growth a wake up call to President Obama to think big? Jackie Calmes looks at the possible shift in strategy:
Within the White House, the report gave ammunition to Obama advisers who have pressed internally for bolder action on tax cuts and spending measures as Mr. Obama makes the final changes to a speech that could be as important to his re-election prospects as any to date. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with unemployment so high.
While the scale of stimulus measures Mr. Obama will seek remains unclear, early indications suggest it will far exceed the limited agenda that the White House was talking about as recently as July, which mostly called for extending for another year a payroll tax cut for workers and unemployment compensation for those out of jobs for six months or more.
Robert Reich argues that bold action is exactly what we need, not more of the same:
Every time you hear anyone say we’re “broke” or “can’t afford to spend more,” tell them we’ll be in worse shape if we don’t. If the economy remains dead in the water, the ratio of public debt to GDP balloons.
And remind them that the federal government can now borrow at fire-sale rates. Interest on the ten-year Treasury bill is 2 percent.
Do you hear me, Mr. President? Please — be bold next week. And if, as expected, Republicans refuse to go along, take it to the people. Mobilize the public. Use the bully pulpit. That’s what you have it for.
One more thing, Mr. President. You also have to tackle inequality. When so much income and wealth continues to flow to the very top, America’s vast middle class still won’t have enough purchasing power to boost the economy. Priming the pump is necessary but won’t be sufficient without enough water in the well.
Kathleen Parker on the expectations and how the President has already fumbled out of the gate:
Some percentage of viewers will tune in to the last 15 minutes of a speech they otherwise might have missed. In another sense, however, Obama’s presidency is further diminished by his perceived inability to prevail as the more important event of an evening.
This isn’t just any speech but one we’ve been awaiting for, oh, about three years — through a recession, unemployment that never dipped below the 8 percent level predicted way back when and an earthquake followed by a hurricane that disrupted the Obamas’ summer vacation. This is it. The one. The very speech that finally is going to lay out The Plan to put America back to work and get that old economy breaking a sweat again.
It’s important to the country. It may even be consequential. But the message thus far is that the president can’t command an audience. Congressional Republicans, with a little help from certain media cohorts, may have engineered the public’s consumption of that message, but they can’t really be blamed for the content.