Clinton, Obama Differ on Deregulation

Tuesday, 11 Sep 2012 11:17 AM

By John Berlau

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As much as the term “Forward” was used at the Democratic National Convention last week, the speeches of Bill Clinton and, to an extent, President Obama, hearkened back to the prosperity of the 1990s. But another disappointing employment report on Friday would show that in terms of job growth, these are two different eras.

The irony is that if we want to emulate ’90s growth, there is one Clinton-era policy we should pursue that Obama is strongly campaigning against: deregulation. For despite Clinton’s finger-wagging in the speech at Republicans for wanting to “get rid of those pesky financial regulations,” Clinton knows that the bipartisan financial liberalization he pursued with the GOP was a key factor in the prosperity during his presidency.

Late in Clinton’s tenure, the White House put forth a document celebrating “historic economic growth” during the administration and pointing to the policy accomplishments it deemed responsible. Among the achievements on Clinton’s list were “modernizing for the new economy through technology and consensus deregulation.”

“In 1993, the laws that governed America’s financial service sector were antiquated and anti-competitive,” the document explained. “The Clinton-Gore aadministration fought to modernize those laws to increase competition in traditional banking, insurance, and securities industries to give consumers and small businesses more choices and lower costs.”

Everything in that passage is true. All that’s missing is mention of the credit owed to the GOP-controlled Congress elected in 1994.

In fact, liberals have frequently blamed Clinton for the deregulation bills he signed that they claim — wrongly — led to the financial crisis. In a recent episode of HBO’s “The Newsroom,” a character asserts that “everybody knows” that Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall, and the episode implies that “everybody knows” Glass-Steagall repeal hurt the banking system. I take this claim on and defend the Clinton-GOP repeal of this arcane New Deal law that was limiting consumer choice and hurting U.S. competitiveness in a National Review piece.

And if we want to do ’90s-style repeals of financial red tape that strangles entrepreneurs and adds little value to the stability of the banking system, disposing of much of the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” of 2010 is a great place to start deregulating.

John Berlau is director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He is the author of the book “Eco-Freaks.” Read more reports from John Berlau — Click Here Now.

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