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Worse than doing nothing at all…

From Reuters:

President Barack Obama unexpectedly asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to withdraw a plan to limit smog pollution, handing a big win to business and Republicans who have argued the initiative was a job killer in uncertain times.

So, basically through this move the president has shown two things:

  1. He’s as wishy-washy as they claim.
  2. Reinforced the Republican narrative that environmental initiatives cost jobs.

Self inflicted. Worse than doing nothing at all.

Also wrong – this won’t cost jobs, quite the opposite. By forcing companies to spend cash that is sitting on the sidelines to comply (and there is a lot of it) such an initiative would be a sort of “forced stimulus” (though admittedly that’s not a good reason to support it).

The problem is, if people haven’t noticed, we’re always in some “crisis” and it’s never a good time to enact environmental regulation – rain or shine.

I have no idea if Obama had good reasoning or not here, but intentional or not, it’s yet another self-inflicted wound (assuming he actually cares about the subject, which who can know with a politician).

President Barack Obama unexpectedly asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to withdraw a plan to limit smog pollution, handing a big win to business and Republicans who have argued the initiative was a job killer in uncertain times.

UPDATE:

Krugman comes to the same conclusion.

UPDATE 2:

The Economist’s “Democracy In America” says:

The charitable interpretation of this is that the new standards would indeed be burdensome for businesses to implement, and if job creation is a top priority at the moment, as well it should be, then it may be wise to revise some previous plans that might indeed hamper that goal.

Today’s decision may have been the prudent one, given the costs of unemployment, but I wish Mr Obama—who is unusually adept at explaining complex causal reasoning when he chooses to do so—had done just that rather than tried to hide it in the news cycle.

I’ll give them credit for noting that there’s more nuance here, however they don’t point out the premise that it costs jobs is just plain out wrong. While one can fairly argue whether it’s the government’s job to reallocate private resources and/or if it’s ultimately constructive (personally I don’t think it hurts any more than private modifiers), however money spent on the environment doesn’t go into some “black hole”, never to be seen again. Money spent on the environment goes into hands of others which in theory should act as stimulus.

Like energy, money isn’t “destroyed”, it just changes form.

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