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Obama’s Regulatory Rampage

President Barack Obama Speaks At The Toner Prize For Excellence In Political Reporting Awards DinnerPresident Barack Obama Speaks At The Toner Prize For Excellence In Political Reporting Awards Dinner
He ain't done yet.Photograph by Getty Images

The scuttling of the Pfizer-Allergan deal means President Barack Obama’s team of regulators have now killed some $370 billion worth of deals during their tenure – an unprecedented amount, according to the Financial Times. Other big deals that were scotched include AbbVie’s $55 billion takeover of Ireland-based Shire, Comcast’s $71 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, AT&T’s $39 billion bid for T-Mobile, and Nasdaq’s $11 billion takeover of the New York Stock Exchange.

That’s five deals bigger than $10 billion blocked during the Obama years, compared to one in the George W. Bush administration and two during Bill Clinton’s administration.

That may partly reflect a greater urge to merge in today’s economy, given high levels of corporate cash, low interest rates and sluggish growth. But it also reflects a strong activist bent, unseen since the 1970s, on the part of Obama’s regulators. And there is more to come, according to this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Thwarted in Congress, the President is racing to cement his legacy with more regulation, targeting everything from overtime pay for white-collar workers to new sugar disclosures on flavored milk cartons. Obama’s tally of major regulations has already reached 392 – exceeding George W. Bush at 358 and Bill Clinton at 361 – and there are 47 more sitting on the drawing board for this year.


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