In January, The Washington Post reported that an internal White House assessment of what had gone wrong during a very tough 2013 concluded that the administration had focused too much on trying to persuade a recalcitrant Congress, and would instead focus on what could be achieved with “a more executive-focused presidency” moving forward.
President Obama has ordered his officials to step on the gas and clear as much of his regulatory agenda as possible during the twilight of his time in office.
The clock is ticking, creating a sense of urgency in the administration to crank out his new rules without delay.
Just a year into the president’s second term, experts and former administration officials say it is do-or-die time for scores of regulatory initiatives across the federal government that could shape his legacy. So Obama is spurring agencies on.
“He has directed his entire administration to move as quickly as possible in identifying and acting on steps they can take to make progress on behalf of the American people,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.
Prominent Republicans such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) complain that Obama’s approach has already produced rules that are overly “burdensome” and serve to slow economic growth.
But, even so, the biggest obstacle facing Obama’s regulatory agenda isn’t the Republican House, or the opposition of business groups, it’s the calendar.
A single federal rule can take years to develop and put in place, consuming significant resources and political capital along the way.
Regulators involved in the painstaking process try to use language strong enough to both accomplish the administration’s goals and withstand future legal challenges.
“Three years may look like a long time, but when it comes to the rulemaking process it’s a blink of the eye,” said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at the nonprofit group Public Citizen. “I think they’re realizing they’re up against tight deadlines.”