Obama Orders Review of Business-Stifling Regulations, But Admits the Review May Produce New Regulations

By Susan Jones | January 18, 2011 | 6:46 AM EST

President Barack Obama makes a statement to reporters after his meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on a year-end bipartisan agreement to extend the expiring Bush tax rates on Monday, Dec. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - Hailing America's free-market system as "the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known," President Barack Obama announced that he has ordered a review of regulations that place "unreasonable burdens on business."

The move comes a few weeks before the president is scheduled to address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has expressed alarm about America's regulatory "tsunami."

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Tuesday, President Obama stressed the importance of finding the "proper balance" between freedom of commerce and "common sense rules" that protect the public.

"Over the past two years, the goal of my administration has been to strike the right balance. And today, I am signing an executive order that makes clear that this is the operating principle of our government,"he wrote.

Obama said his executive order directs federal agencies to make sure that "regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth." The order also requires a "government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive."

Obama said the review will eliminate overlapping rules -- but he also admitted that the review may spawn new regulations, such as new safety rules for infant formula, infection-control in hospitals,and penalties for chronic violators of workplace safety laws.

"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 added.

The president said the new rules will be written with input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens. "We're also getting rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money," the president promised.

Obama said his administration's efforts to modernize rules and regulations have led to smarter, and sometimes tougher, rules.

The op-ed comes about three weeks before President Obama is scheduled to address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We look forward to this discussion about jobs and the economy," the Chamber says on its Web site.

In an October 7, 2010 speech to the Des Moines Rotary Club, Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue discussed the "tsunami of government regulations" that is overwhelming the American free enterprise system.

"The more than 100,000 regulations issued over many decades are like plaque that slowly and silently accumulates in the arteries. They are depriving our economic system of the needed oxygen to grow and expand. Eventually they will silence the heartbeat of our economy," Donohue warned in October.

Obama's Feb. 7 speech to the business group is seen as a fence-mending effort.