White House defends regulatory policies

White House press secretary Jay Carney pushed back Wednesday against criticism of the Obama administration’s regulatory policies, saying federal rules issued on the president’s watch have yielded well more than $150 billion in net benefits.

Carney argued that the president has struck a careful balance between protecting public health and safety, and the economy.

“We can do both and we are doing both,” he said during a briefing.

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Carney placed the net benefit of rules finalized through the fourth fiscal year of the Obama administration at $159 billion, saying the total was four times higher than those realized during the first four fiscal years of the George W. Bush administration.

His remarks come in response to a speech delivered earlier Wednesday by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue, who said the administration’s “regulatory overreach” threatens to torpedo the country’s economic recovery.

“How will an avalanche of confusing and conflicting regulations on energy, the environment, capital markets, and workplaces impact business operations just as things are starting to hum?” Donohue demanded during a speech on the state of American business.

Carney disputed the assertion, pointing to Obama’s government-wide initiative to rid the books of unnecessary federal rules. The “regulatory look-back” has identified more than 500 areas where regulations can be streamlined or scrapped entirely, and is on track to save over $10 billion, he said.

“The Obama administration has had a smart, pragmatic approach to ensure we are reducing burdensome regulations,” he said.

Despite the disagreement, Carney maintained that the White House is serious about partnering with business interests to help grow the economy at a faster rate.

“We are absolutely committed to working with the Chamber and the businesses the Chamber represents — and with members of Congress  in both parties — on ways that we can do that,” he said.