Don’t get too excited over Barack Obama’s promise to cut unnecessary, contradictory and “just plain dumb” regulations. Lots of presidents have promised the same thing, and they rarely get anywhere, the New York Times observes. Even seemingly silly regulations have their supporters, making repeal a political process. The regulation forbidding new highway signs to be written in all capital letters might seem goofy, for example, but it’s backed by senior citizen advocates who say it’s easier to read.
“The history of these kinds of efforts is that they don’t matter very much,” says the editor of the libertarian Regulation magazine. Congress has already created an advocacy office so small businesses can suggest rule changes, but it’s done almost nothing in the years since. In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Obama offered as an example the EPA’s removal of saccharin from the toxic chemicals list. But that took seven years, and isn’t expected to produce much savings for businesses or consumers. (Read more deregulation stories.)