Barack Obama begins his campaign for re-election as a conservative.

Last week, the Obama White House made an important and surprising change in its environmental policy.  Obama overruled Environmental Protection Agency director Lisa Jackson and an EPA board in determining that businesses would not be forced to take costly environmental measures.  I commend the president for having the courage to put the economy first but we cannot lose sight on why the president made this decision and what he would likely do after winning in 2012.

In 2008, the Bush White House tightened the ozone limits from 84 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion.  In January 2010, the Obama EPA proposed a corporate reduction to 60 to 70 parts per billion when averaged over an eight-hour period. 

Let me start off by giving the president credit where credit is due.  This was a very wise move on Obama’s part.  If he has any chance of not being a Hoover/Carter president he has to stop the bleeding on the economy.  Needless regulations simply hurt the economy.  Corporations were forecasting approximately $70 billion dollars in costs to American business as a result of this type of regulation enforced by the notorious Clean Air Act.  Many dems are more than happy to risk jobs and GDP growth to save the environment and gamble on green jobs.  But here, there simply was no economic up-side during our recession.  The president acted presidential and he should be commended for doing so.

While Obama’s decision is surprising, we shouldn’t be surprised.  President Obama won in 2008 running as a conservative democrat.  He did not run on his record as the most liberal U.S. Senator in the Senate.  He ran on platitudes and conservative talking points.  In his state of the Union of 2009, he promised to cut the deficit IN HALF by the end of his first term.  He campaigns as a conservative on specifics and speaks in code to liberal interest groups.  There is no appetite in America for liberal policies.  Election season has begun.  Unemployment remains at 9.1% and Obama has no idea how to fix it.

Barack Obama realizes that regulations hurt businesses which hurts consumers which decreases jobs which hurts the economy.  The industry is saying that these EPA regs could have cost as much as $90 billion dollars across the board annually.  We cannot afford it and Obama knows it. 

I appreciate Obama’s willingness to do the right thing here, but we need to be careful because Obama has begun his slide towards the middle in anticipation of election season.  The time for the Clintonian triangulation routine has passed.  While it is true that he could have acted more to the left, he has not come to the middle.  His time is almost up.