Obama launches review to target 'excessive' regulations

President Obama said Tuesday he will sign an executive order to trim outdated and ineffective regulations that impede economic growth.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Obama said the country's complex regulatory structures have sometimes had a "chilling effect" on job growth and, giving a nod to the priorities of the new House Republican majority, observed that small businesses often feel that burden.

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"We're looking at the system as a whole to make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation," he said. "And finally, today I am directing federal agencies to do more to account for — and reduce — the burdens regulations may place on small businesses. Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way."

Obama has taken pains to ease his relationship with an alienated business community in light of major legislative achievements — Wall Street reform and the healthcare overhaul among them — that some say have hurt job creation.

"Where necessary, we won't shy away from addressing obvious [regulatory] gaps. ... But we are also making it our mission to root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb," he wrote.

In practice, Obama said, the executive order will also eliminate unnecessary paperwork and help ensure that the government conducts more of its business online.

The president's call received praise from an unlikely source following its release: House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has planned a string of investigations into the administration's affairs, said he looks forward to "providing the president with insights" related to his regulatory reform push.

"I applaud President Obama for joining what must be an effort that stretches beyond ideological entrenchments to identify the regulatory impediments that have prevented real and sustained job growth in the private sector," Issa said in a statement. "It's in the interest of every American that we create a modern, regulatory environment that fosters economic growth and makes U.S. companies globally competitive."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also welcomed Obama's move.

“Today’s executive order from President Obama shows that he heard the same message I did in the last election – that Americans are sick and tired of Washington’s excessive overreach and overspending," Cantor said in a statement.

Cantor unveiled his own plan, in December 2009, aiming to eliminate what he called "needless and burdensome bureaucratic rules and regulations that plague businesses and stifle job growth and creation."

—This post was updated at 9:48, 10:38 and 10:58 a.m.

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