Early last month, Rep. Darrell Issa solicited businesses and trade groups for suggestions on which regulations to target as chairman of the Oversight Committee. This was the result:
The Post reviewed more than 200 letters and reports that businesses sent to Issa targeting regulations across the federal government. The rules under scrutiny include familiar issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, health-care reform and the landmark Wall Street overhaul. But the committee also will examine more obscure regulations. For instance, makers of some cleaning products that remove mold and mildew have asked the committee to reconsider rules that require their products to be registered as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
Among other things, this stands out:
Murray Energy, a coal-mining company in Alledonia, Ohio, that employs 3,000 people, told Issa that the Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse gas and clean air rules, those existing and those proposed, "must be stopped immediately."
"Jobs and lives are being destroyed by Mr. Obama and his out-of-control, radical U.S. EPA and his appointees to it," chairman and chief executive Robert E. Murray wrote. He concluded: "America, our industry and jobs, are under siege by Mr. Obama and his U.S. EPA."
It's obviously true that the economy improves when businesses are doing well, but it's also true that "economic growth" is not synonymous with the particular interests of a given industry. It is good for profits if Wall Street is given free rein to gamble with subprime mortgages and dubious financial products, but -- as we've seen -- it's terrible for the economy writ large. Likewise, Mr. Murray's complaints about environmental regulation have less to do with "America, our industry and jobs" and everything to do with his subjective interests as someone who makes his money from coal mining and would prefer to make as much money as possible.
All of this is to say that the Obama administration would be wise not to worry about business complaints. As a class, CEOs and owners of large businesses are conservative and prefer politicians who exclusively cater to their interests, even when regulations have the effect of boosting growth. For that reason, it doesn't matter that liberal presidents are more likely to bring economic growth; business wants to be first, and business elites will be unhappy for as long as they are treated as one interest among many.