Forget about that regulatory moratorium

Various leaks have offered us hints about the economic plan President Obama will unveil tomorrow night, but some of the un-sourced rumors are more reliable than others.

The New York Times, for example, reported today that unnamed White House officials have “discussed” placing “a new moratorium on some regulations that affect the economy, excluding health care and financial rules.” The article noted that such a move would infuriate the left, which is true.

But the rumor appears to be wrong. The White House didn’t feel the need to respond to any of the other reports about the plan’s provisions, but it did issue a statement to reporters denying the accuracy of the NYT claim.

“Those reports are false. The Administration has a strong record of implementing smart, sensible steps that protect consumers, public health, and the environment. While the President has made clear that we must continue to ensure that new regulations are based on common sense, and implemented in ways that do not impede our economic recovery, he has also made clear that he will not accept the false choice of either having prosperity or clean air, clean water, and safe food. Americans deserve both, and we will continue to take steps that provide those protections, while fostering economic growth.”

One could, I suppose, wonder if the West Wing will do a 180-degree turn on this before tomorrow night, but that seems unlikely — officials wouldn’t flatly deny the accuracy of a report like this unless they were confident about the outcome. If there was even a possibility the NYT was right about this, the White House wouldn’t be pushing back this hard at all.

I suspect the president will have something to say about regulations, perhaps something about streamlining/reforming outdated rules still on the books, but that’s obviously a far cry from a “moratorium.” One is offensive, one isn’t.

Greg Sargent added, “It’s hard to know whether this was a trial balloon, or a leak designed to get the idea shot down, or whether this was never being seriously considered at all, but this statement would seem to rule out any kind of meaningful moratorium on new regulations.”

Agreed.

It’s also worth remembering that getting worked up about blind paraphrases is probably not a good idea. We’ll hear the speech soon enough.