Jan. 31, 2018 by James Goodwin

Government and Bureaucracy Play Essential, Fundamental Roles in American Life

President Trump's first State of the Union address contained numerous outrageous claims and statements, rendering a full dissection and critique practically impossible. Many have already singled out one line of the speech as worthy of particular condemnation, so I'll add mine. Early on, Trump made this statement to the rapturous applause of his conservative allies in Congress: "In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life." This claim is not only patently false, but it is dangerous and fundamentally counterproductive. 

As a preliminary matter, it rests on Trump's false "zero-sum game" worldview that Rep. Joe Kennedy rightly criticized in his rebuttal address. Having an active government presence in our lives is not mutually exclusive with maintaining strong bonds to our family and community or with cultivating a strong moral compass, whether informed by faith or other values. To the contrary, it can be a vital means to all these worthy ends. 

After all, in a democracy such as ours, we are the government. For decades now, conservatives have sought to poison the public's perception of public servants by casting them as some "other" to be feared and …

Jan. 31, 2018 by Matthew Freeman

During the State of the Union address last night, no one was surprised to hear President Trump brag about all the work his administration has done slashing regulatory safeguards for health, safety, the environment, and financial security. It’s clearly one of his proudest first-year accomplishments — making us all less safe and more vulnerable to industries that profit by polluting the air and water, creating unsafe working conditions, using underhanded financial practices, or selling dangerous products. The president thinks that regulations that curb such misbehavior are simply too costly to indulge and refuses to acknowledge their value in any way.

If you listen carefully when he makes that pitch, you’ll notice that he would have us believe that safeguards for health, safety, the environment, and financial security generate untold “costs” for industry. But as with so many things that are clear to Donald Trump but that …

Jan. 30, 2018 by Bill Funk

Progressives have rightfully taken issue with the Trump administration's policy goals, from immigration to the environment, from health care to worker safety. Given the president's decidedly unprogressive stances, one should not be surprised at the policy reversals from the prior administration. One might be surprised, however, and dismayed as well, at the cavalier disregard that the administration has shown for the law, both substantive and procedural. 

For example, President Trump's earlier executive orders on the "Muslim ban" were overturned not just on constitutional grounds, but also on statutory grounds. The most recent ban has also been enjoined on statutory grounds, although the U.S. Supreme Court has just recently decided to review that ruling. 

Trump's executive order on sanctuary jurisdictions met a similar fate.  The order stated that the policy of the executive branch was to "ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply …

Jan. 29, 2018 by James Goodwin

Perhaps because he has so few real accomplishments to his name, President Donald Trump has developed a nasty habit of embellishing his record. From the size of the crowd at his inauguration to the number of floors in Trump Tower, he simply won't let a little thing like "reality" or "facts" or even "cardinal numbers" get in the way of his estimation of his own self-worth. Expect this behavior to be on full display at tomorrow night's State of the Union Address, where Trump will no doubt make several baseless claims about his achievements during his first year as Commander-in-Chief. One success he may tout – use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal 15 regulatory safeguards – is a good example of such a claim that withers under scrutiny. 

The CRA is a "Contract with America"-era law designed to short-circuit Congress's deliberative process …

Jan. 26, 2018 by Matt Shudtz

Next Tuesday, President Trump will share his view of the state of our union. And if his words correlate with his actions over the last year, the dominant theme will be one of division and disruption. Like no president in recent history, Donald Trump has pushed U.S. residents to cordon ourselves off into dueling tribes whose theories of governance and policymaking diverge and whose basic facts and language are starting to split in disturbing ways.

But on whichever side of the divide each of us finds ourselves, most of us face some common challenges in daily life, including keeping ourselves and our kids safe and healthy, earning fair pay for a day's work, and steering clear of the predatory business practices that are difficult to spot without graduate-level work in deciphering fine print.

Until this time last year, we had federal agencies teeming with dedicated …

Jan. 25, 2018 by Daniel Farber

Originally published on The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a central instrument of the modern regulatory state. Whether from the perspective of environmental protection or regulatory economics, 2017 has not been a good year.

Experience to date under the Trump Administration is suggestive of industry capture or reflexive ideological opposition to regulation—or both. A multitude of deregulatory actions have occurred. Unfortunately, nearly all of the traditional sources of checks on political leadership—centralized regulatory review, internal agency checks, and congressional oversight —apparently have been neutered or captured. Only the courts, which as yet have not had occasion to play a major role, seem to remain as potential restraints. Let us take each of the nonjudicial checks in turn to see their weaknesses over the last year.

Centralized regulatory review. According to the White House's annual regulatory report …

Jan. 22, 2018 by Dave Owen

Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog.

Today, the United States Supreme Court decided National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense, a case determining whether challenges to the "Clean Water Rule" or "Waters of the United States Rule" should be heard in federal district court or in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The answer, the Supreme Court unanimously held, is federal district court, and the Court remanded the case to the Sixth Circuit to dismiss the appellate court petitions.

This post provides brief answers to a few likely questions about the decision.

Was this a surprising outcome? It was not. Many legal observers expected the Court to reverse the Sixth Circuit. Indeed, the two Sixth Circuit judges who concluded that they did have jurisdiction were rather unenthusiastic about their holding and blamed it primarily on precedent. The government's arguments …

Jan. 17, 2018 by Laurie Ristino

This blog post is the first in a forthcoming series on the 2018 Farm Bill.

As Congress begins the complex task of crafting the next Farm Bill, much is at stake – from conservation to "food stamps" to rural economies. This blog post is the first in a series addressing important policy considerations with an eye toward making the Farm Bill more effective, rather than backsliding on these and other important issues.

President Obama once referred to the current (2014) Farm Bill as a "Swiss Army knife" because of the many areas of American life that it touches. Another way to think of the omnibus legislation, passed roughly every four to five years, is as a food security bill.

Food security is a helpful framework to foster improved policy coherence in the next Farm Bill across a breadth of policy areas. A food-secure Farm Bill is one that …

Jan. 11, 2018 by Alejandro Camacho

Professor Michael Robinson-Dorn of the University of California, Irvine co-authored this article with Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and University of California, Irvine Professor Alejandro Camacho. It originally appeared in The Conversation on January 11, 2018.

Since the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973, the U.S. government has played a critical role in protecting endangered and threatened species. But while the law is overwhelmingly popular with the American public, critics in Congress are proposing to significantly reduce federal authority to manage endangered species and delegate much of this role to state governments.

States have substantial authority to manage flora and fauna in their boundaries. But species often cross state borders, or exist on federal lands. And many states either are uninterested in species protection or prefer to rely on the federal government to serve that role.

We recently analyzed state endangered species laws and …

Jan. 9, 2018 by James Goodwin

On January 8, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) struck a resounding blow against the Trump administration's ill-advised agenda to put its thumb on the scale of the energy market by propping up the coal industry, unanimously rejecting a controversial proposal by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry. Perry's plan would have resulted in working families and small businesses subsidizing the coal industry to the tune of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. Dozens of energy policy experts have explained the substantive issues of this action, but I want to focus on an important procedural matter – namely, how this episode demonstrates the importance of guarding the actual independence of independent regulatory agencies like FERC. 

FERC is among a class of federal administrative agencies that Congress specially designed to be reasonably "independent" from political interference by the president, hence the moniker "independent regulatory …

  • 1 (current)
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Jan. 31, 2018

Government and Bureaucracy Play Essential, Fundamental Roles in American Life

Jan. 31, 2018

What Creates the Cost, Mr. President?

Jan. 30, 2018

Breaking the Law: Many Trump Regulatory Rollbacks and Delays Are Unlawful

Jan. 29, 2018

The Congressional Review Act: Trump's First-Year Participation Trophy

Jan. 26, 2018

Looking Back on a Year of Trump's Regulatory 'Fire and Fury'

Jan. 25, 2018

Trump, EPA, and the Anti-Regulatory State

Jan. 22, 2018

Implications of the Supreme Court's Clean Water Rule/WOTUS Ruling