The most fascinating aspect of House Speaker John Boehner’s very effective address to the Economic Club was not the specific solutions he presented but the order in which he presented them.
If this speech had been given just a month ago by Boehner or another GOP leader, taxes and spending would have dominated the talk, and overregulation, if brought up at all, would have been an afterthought. But since coming back from Labor Day, the regulatory state has moved to the front burner for Republicans. “Job creation in America is facing what I would call a triple threat from government; the first [emphasis added] aspect of this threat is excessive regulation,” Boehner said.
And today in Boehner’s speech, overregulation was first — from the opening that brought up the National Labor Relations Board’s blocking Boeing’s plant in right-to-work South Carolina, to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s raid of the Gibson guitar factory in Tennessee, to the speech’s title of “Liberating America’s Economy.” That title is similar to one of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s main themes of the past two and a half years: “Liberate to Stimulate.”
Two things have propelled regulation to the top of the GOP agenda. One is the simply outrageous abuses of the regulatory state such as the Gibson raid and the NLRB’s many unprecedented actions.
The other is recent polling data that shows that while spending and taxes are important base issues — as well as issues important to the future of our country — overregulation resonates much more with independents and even sometimes Democrats. A recent Public Notice poll found that 74 percent of independents and 58 percent of Democrats think businesses and consumers are overregulated.
The GOP — and to some extent President Obama — finally seems to be getting that overregulation is a kitchen-table issue that hits home. From shelling out ten times more for light bulbs due to environmental mandates to losing free checking and debit-card rewards due to Dodd-Frank price controls, Americans are paying dearly for overregulation. Connecting overregulation to jobs and the cost of living is a winning strategy.