No Laundry List From Obama Means Business Leaders Breathe Sigh of Relief

January 12, 2016, 12:45 PM UTC
President Obama Delivers State Of The Union Address At U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill on January 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. In his fifth State of the Union address, Obama is expected to emphasize on healthcare, economic fairness and new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy with bipartisan cooperation. (Photo by Larry Downing-Pool/Getty Images)
Photograph by Larry Downing — Getty Images

The White House has put out word that President Obama won’t be announcing a host of new initiatives in his final State of the Union address tonight – a relief to business leaders who feel they’ve faced an onslaught of new regulation in the Obama years.

Instead, the president plans to make his speech more aspirational, delivering his vision for the future of the nation, and attempting to burnish his legacy in the process. And, oh yes, there will be a strong pitch for tougher gun control – punctuated by an empty seat in the gallery to honor those killed by gun violence. But there is only so much the President can do on this front without congressional assent.

Two years ago, the President famously announced his intention to use his executive authority to get around congressional intransigence. My colleague Tory Newmyer reports this morning that, true to that promise, Obama has issued more major regulations in the last two years than either of his two predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – although not by as much as sometimes thought.

In each of the last two years, the President has issued 81 major regulations with an impact of $100 million or more, compared to the average of 65 a year during the Bush years. Yet the number was less than the 95 issued during President Bush’s last year in office, at the onset of the financial crisis. And it was less than President Obama’s first two years in office, when health care and financial legislation led to 84 and 100 major new regulations.

Meanwhile, collapsing oil markets are raising new fears about the oil patch wreckage that will be caused if prices linger in the 20s, Volkswagen continues to flub its crisis management, and my old boss Rupert Murdoch announced he’s marrying Mick Jagger’s old flame Jerry Hall. Murdoch is 84.

Hard to top that. Enjoy the day.

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