Deregulation, the first winding down of the New Deal edifice, began in 1978 under the Carter administration. The 1980’s military build-up began under Carter as well. The issue in the 1980 election was not whether we would have a less intrusive government, whether we would have a more robust foreign policy, but how much and who would direct it.
All of which might mean nothing. For one, it could be dishonest, a spoonful of sugar covering up a poison pill that he knows Republicans will reject, so that he can use it as a campaign slogan. Or, it could be an opening of the auction, forcing corporations to compete for government favor.
But it doesn’t matter, because by doing this, Obama has ostensibly endorsed the wisdom of what he has long rejected, that business does need less government to stay competitive. It is a step away from the continued construction of the Progressive Leviathan. It means he knows that he is not as strong as he once was.