WH Chief of Staff William Daley: On Obama regulations "Sometimes you can't defend the indefensible"

The Obama administration's economic policy is to pick winners and losers -- to throw lots of specialized tax breaks and subsidies at industries and companies and products that they like and penalize the ones that they don't like. If you listen to the CSPAN video below you will see Daley mention (at 16:25 into the video): "it seems as though the number of regulations and rules that come out of agencies is just overwhelming, I am saying something that you sure know." In the video, company after company talks about how the regulations will shut down plants. Daley falsely states that the recent court decisions are forcing them to make certain regulations when all they did was say regulators could make decisions if they wanted to. The Washington Post's Peter Wallsten and and Jia Lynn Yang broke this story.

One by one, exasperated executives stood to air their grievances on environmental regulations and stalled free-trade deals. And Daley, the former banker tasked with building ties with industry, found himself looking for the right balance between empathy and defending his boss.

At one point, the room erupted in applause when Massachusetts manufacturing executive Doug Starrett, his voice shaking with emotion, accused the administration of blocking construction on one of his facilities to protect fish, saying government “throws sand into the gears of progress.”

Daley said he did not have many good answers, appearing to throw up his hands in frustration at what he called “bureaucratic stuff that’s hard to defend.”

“Sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible,” he said.

The exchange suggests the limits of the elaborate courtship of corporations begun by President Obama and his top aides after Democrats’ big losses in the 2010 elections — an effort that has taken on new urgency in recent weeks.

Top aides have been reaching out to business leaders as Obama’s reelection campaign seeks to expand its network of potential new donors and fundraisers. And the White House has hoped that a closer alliance with businesses would help spur job growth.

Even as the White House pledges more receptivity to corporate concerns, business continues to spar with the administration on numerous fronts.

Wall Street is lobbying to undo many of the new regulations signed into law last year. Manufacturers say environmental policies are hindering growth. And, in a high-profile case that tests the administration’s allegiances, aerospace giant Boeing is warring with labor regulators over its decision to open a plant in South Carolina, which is hostile to unions. . . .

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