Robert Higgs coined the phrase "regime uncertainty" in his work explaining why the Great Depression lasted so much longer than it should have. In short, Roosevelt was such a rabid regulator that he made businesses afraid to invest. Thus the depression went on and on.
More recently, the Obama administration has done the same thing with his drive to regulate or tax so many things. For one example, take Obamacare. Businesses are preparing to minimize the deleterious effects and workers are fearing the high cost of mandatory medical insurance or the fee for foregoing said insurance. All of this curtails growth.
Here's Mr. Higgs' own explanation of the current regime uncertainty.
In contrast, I consider regime uncertainty as a form of uncertainty related to the public’s—especially the private investors’—confidence in the future security of private property rights, which can be impaired by future regulatory changes (e.g., Dodd-Frank and Obamacare regulations), court decisions, administrative twists and turns, tax increases in various forms (e.g., Obamacare penalties enforced through the income-tax system), monetary-policy changes that threaten the dollar’s purchasing power and distort the allocation of credit, and personnel changes in the government’s corps of executives, judges, and assorted capos.
But apparently some Obama fans have tried to distort Higgs' concept to include cutbacks or interruptions in government spending and thus spread the blame to those who think reduced government spending is a good thing. Not so fast. Here's Higgs again:
... For the overwhelming majority of the people, reduced government spending is a godsend, even if many people do not know that it is, because it helps to reduce the scale and scope of the government’s destructive involvement in economic life and because it reduces the crowding out of productive private activities, such as private provision of education and of assistance to the poor and others in economic distress. Shifting resources from the government to private individuals is always a beneficial development, given that the government not only wastes many resources, but actually employs resources in destructive ways that harm the welfare of the general public.
Mainstream commentators seem to get their knickers in a twist especially when government employees are furloughed or some sort of government handout is temporarily suspended. In anything but the shortest-term perspective, however, these developments are positive, not negative. It is good to get people off the dole, and if budgetary mismanagement brings about this result, so much the better for the mismanagement. ...
If only people could bring themselves to see the government for what, all in all, it is—a force for plunder, waste, and destruction—they might then have the wit to worry less about government spending cutbacks and to worry more about the manifold ways in which the government generates what I call regime uncertainty.
Read the whole thing at Government Spending and Regime Uncertainty—a Clarification.