Feb. 10, 2009 by Rena Steinzor

Cass Sunstein's 'Yes, We Can'

We’ve written a great deal about Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor who is expected to get the nod to be the “regulatory czar” for the Obama Administration.   In a nutshell, our concern is that Sunstein will stifle the efforts of health, safety, and environmental protection agencies to struggle to their feet after eight long years of evisceration by the Bush Administration’s regulatory czars, John Graham, and his protégé, Susan Dudley.

But, we got to thinking, just because the 30-year tradition of regulatory czars is to kill regulations, leaving people to fend for themselves in the “free” market, should not mean that regulation-killing is the only thing in the job description.   What if “regulatory czar” was the person ultimately responsible for making sure the Executive Branch produces good and needed regulations, cracking the whip to make sure we had rules to make sure kids don’t get salmonella-contaminated peanut butter at school, save workers from dying when trenches collapse or cranes fall over, make sure toys covered with Chinese-manufactured lead paint stay out of American toy stores, and clean up the air so we don’t have any more “Code Red” smog days? What if the job wasn …

Feb. 4, 2009 by James Goodwin

Observers concerned with the current dysfunctional state of the U.S. regulatory system will be letting out a collective sigh of relief following the publication of Executive Order 13497.  Among other things, this Order officially revokes the controversial Executive Order 13422, issued during George W. Bush Administration.

Issued in 2007, Executive Order 13422 amended President Clinton’s September 1993 Executive Order 12866, which established an institutional framework for centralized regulatory review.  Generally speaking, under this framework, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—an obscure but influential bureau in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—is authorized to review all major federal regulations and to do so through the lens of cost-benefit analysis.

Since its original publication, Executive Order 13422 has been criticized by many environmental, public health, and safety advocates, CPR Member Scholars among them, for creating an unnecessary barrier to the …

Jan. 26, 2009 by Rena Steinzor

This morning, the Center for Progressive Reform published a report on some of the issues that will confront President Obama’s “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein, if, as seems likely, he is nominated and confirmed to be the director of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

I’ve blogged on this before, and our report, Reinvigorating Protection of Health, Safety, and the Environment: The Choices Facing Cass Sunstein, speaks for itself, so I won’t go on too long here. The report fleshes out a number of significant differences that we have with the regulatory methods and outcomes Professor Sunstein has embraced – his approach to cost-benefit analysis first and foremost. We believe OIRA’s 25-year record of applying cost-benefit amply demonstrates that it is an inherently flawed method of evaluating proposed regulations. Time and again, benefits (to the public) are understated and costs (to industry) are …

Jan. 9, 2009 by Rena Steinzor

Thursday’s big news on the regulatory front was that President-elect Obama plans to nominate Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein to be the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) – the so-called “regulatory czar” of the federal government. The appointment means that those of us expecting a revival of the protector agencies—EPA, FDA, OSHA, CPSC, and NHTSA—have reason to worry that “yes, we can” will become “no, we won’t.”

The reason for the pre-Russian Revolution appellation is that over the past quarter century, OIRA has become a choke point for federal regulation. Since Ronald Reagan, regulations with any significant impact have had to pass through OIRA’s doors, and while there, many a protective regulation has come to grief. During the Bush years, now a mere 11 days away from ending, OIRA ably accomplished …

Dec. 24, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

The Mercatus Center is out with a new report focused on midnight regulations -- the last-minute regs pushed through by Presidents even as their successor’s inaugural parade reviewing stand is being constructed on the front stoop of the White House. President Bush and his political appointees at regulatory agencies are making considerable use of their midnight hour, working to adopt new regs that would weaken the Endangered Species Act, make it harder for women to get reproductive care, keep truckers behind the wheel for 14 sleep-defying hours a day, make it easier to get a permit to mine uranium on the edge of the Grand Canyon, weaken protections against toxic chemicals in the workplace and so much more. (For a frightening list of the Administration’s last-minute regulating, visit ProPublica’s impressive compilation.) In fairness to the Bush Administration, the Clinton Administration did something very similar. To …

Nov. 24, 2008 by James Goodwin

Much is being made of the outgoing Bush Administration’s “midnight regulations,”  and with good reason, too.  Many of them roll back crucial protections for public health, safety, and the environment.  So far, they include relaxed requirements for building filthy coal plants near national parks and the elimination of a requirement mandating that federal agencies consult with independent scientists prior to taking actions that might impact endangered species.

The fact is, however, that the Bush Administration has been surreptitiously weakening regulations for the last eight years through the backdoor process of regulatory review.   And, thanks to a proposed guidance recently released by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the process of regulatory review may be tilted even further in favor of weakening regulations.

The proposed guidance involves a new requirement for how the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) conducts cost-benefit analysis during …

Nov. 7, 2008 by Thomas McGarity

Joining Thomas McGarity in this post are CPR Policy Analysts Margaret Clune Giblin and Matthew Shudtz.  This entry is cross-posted on ACSBlog, the blog of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

In the wake of the meltdown in the US financial sector, federal regulation has attracted renewed public support as a vehicle for establishing responsible boundaries and correcting market failures. Recent news stories, however, have focused public attention on a flurry of regulations that the Bush Administration has finalized, or has proposed and is working feverishly to finalize, in its last weeks in office. Has the Bush Administration recognized the failure of the deregulatory principles that have guided its nearly eight years in office and, like the public, come to embrace regulation? Apparently not. Instead, the Administration has opted to push through hundreds of new rules, many sharing the common theme of further undercutting health …

Oct. 28, 2008 by James Goodwin

Imagine being told that the global economy had lost between $2 trillion and $5 trillion in the last year. Presented with this information, you would probably think immediately of the seemingly ever-worsening economic crisis now sweeping the globe. In fact, that number refers to the annual economic losses attributable to global deforestation. For the record: Wall Street’s losses to date from the current financial crisis are somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion.

The numbers on the costs of deforestation come from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, a recent report commissioned by the European Union. It says that the economic costs of deforestation are equal to about seven percent of the global GDP, and that the world economy has been taking that hit for a number of years running.

So how does chopping down trees result in economic losses? Wouldn’t it free up …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Oct. 29, 2020

New Web Article Exposes the Pseudoscience of Cost-Benefit Analysis

Aug. 25, 2020

Beyond 12866: New CPR Initiative to Promote Administrative Agenda for Progressive Regulatory Reform

Aug. 4, 2020

CPR Comments Deliver Scathing Critique of EPA 'Benefits-Busting' Rule

July 22, 2020

EPA's 'Benefit-Busting' Proposal Would Add to Trump's Anti-Safeguard Legacy

June 18, 2020

D.C. Circuit Restricts 'Housekeeping' Regulations

Nov. 25, 2019

Low-Hanging Fruit

Sept. 5, 2019

Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Next President