A sign of the complete corporate victory over the public interest, from Monday’s lead editorial in the Washington Post:
Having held partial or controlling stakes in companies ranging from Phillips Petroleum to American Railcar Industries, billionaire investor Carl Icahn certainly knows a thing or two about how federal regulators deal with business. He also is, at 80, a successful, intelligent, deeply experienced investment pro. Whether his is the ideal résumé for a special adviser to the president on regulatory reform is less clear. Foxes are experts on chicken coops, it is true.
Federal safety, environmental and financial regulations necessarily involve balancing of costs and benefits to the public. The Obama administration’s approach frequently struck the balance in favor of more rules, and there is a reasonable case to be made that pruning regulatory overgrowth could, indeed, help the economy — which, by the way, is doing reasonably well. But Mr. Icahn’s sweeping indictments of the regulatory agencies, voiced repeatedly during the campaign, suggest he would urge President-elect Donald Trump to swing wildly in the opposite direction. “You almost get enraged by some of the stuff,” he told CNBC on Thursday.
The Trump transition team’s statement announcing Mr. Icahn’s new role quoted him as saying that “under President Obama, America’s business owners have been crippled by over $1 trillion in new regulations.” We don’t know where that number comes from, though we did find an estimate from the conservative regulation skeptics at American Action Forum, a think tank, that puts the total cost of major new regulation imposed since the beginning of the second term of George W. Bush’s presidency at $1 trillion. Notably, that study also mentioned $745 billion worth of offsetting social benefits.