Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Destroying the "Deregulation" Myth

Blaming the Bush administration's "deregulation" for all or part of the current economic crisis is highly popular on the left -- except that it never happened.  Veronique de Rugy, writing at Reason Online, details the massive expansion of regulation that took place under Bush.  As she points out: 
The Bush team has spent more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history. Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2009, outlays on regulatory activities, adjusted for inflation, increased from $26.4 billion to an estimated $42.7 billion, or 62 percent.
A legitimate argument can be made that the right type of regulations were not in place, or that enforcement was lacking in crucial areas, but the idea that Bush was some sort of deregulator is a complete myth.


  1. No, the main story on the left is that the repeal of Glass-Steagal, pushed by Phil Gramm and signed into law by Clinton, is what enabled the financial crisis. They blame Bush for other things, for example not enforcing safety and labor regulations well.

  2. Alon,

    I've seen plenty of articles on the left talking about deregulation in general and bashing free market economics, "unrestrained capitalism," etc. Even serious liberal economic arguments, like Joseph Stiglitz's in Vanity Fair, devote an entire section to "deregulation philosophy," which consists of exaggerating those points which fit that theory, and ignoring everything else.

    Specific points like the ones you list are debatable. But there was clearly no policy of deregulation under Bush.

  3. I don't see any of that blame game in Stiglitz's article. On the contrary, Stiglitz makes sure to go back to specific acts of deregulation that happened under Reagan and Clinton's watch. If anything, he blames Greenspan more than Bush. He does attack Bush for his tax cut philosophy, but that's entirely legitimate: Bush reduced taxes sharply.

  4. I'm still waiting for someone on the left to point out the specific deregulation that Bush signed. While you are at it, please point out the specific Bush policies of the "past eight years" that caused our current financial crisis.

    I won't hold my breath.