CPR Archive for Sidney Shapiro

Regulatory Capture: The Conservative Cure Is Worse Than the Disease

by Sidney Shapiro | March 14, 2016

I was recently a panelist at a Senate workshop on regulatory capture sponsored by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). In an earlier post about this event, I wrote about the potential of enhanced transparency to reduce regulatory capture, which I discussed at the workshop. Conservative commentators at the workshop argued that agencies are captured by public interest groups as well as by regulated entities. They contended that Congress should thus pass the REINs Act to reduce capture from both types of regulatory stakeholders. Of course, their fears of public interest capture are greatly overblown, as the potential for these groups to capture agencies is far more hypothetical than real. But the real problem is that the REINS Act, if it became law, would increase regulatory capture, not decrease it.  

My earlier post explained that the imposition of budget cuts by Congress on regulatory agencies, which make little difference to the size of the federal budget, but which have crippled agencies, is a form of regulatory capture since agency dysfunction benefits regulated entities, not the public.  Agencies also become captured because regulated entities, their trade associations, and the friends in conservative think tanks dominate the rulemaking process, filing many more comments than public interest groups, and meeting with agencies many more times. 

Whether it is lobbying Congress concerning agency budgets or making arguments and presentations at agencies, regulated entities and their allies are able to ...

Shining Light on Regulatory Capture: Four Proposals

by Sidney Shapiro | March 11, 2016
The subject of regulatory capture was back on Capital Hill last week as the result of a briefing sponsored by Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). In 2010, I testified concerning regulatory capture in a Senate hearing chaired by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), but in the midst of the broad-scale conservative assault on regulation, the issue hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves. That’s unfortunate for a simple reason. As Rena Steinzor and I establish in our book, many ...

John Boehner, Volkswagen, and the Role of Government

by Sidney Shapiro | October 06, 2015
The resignation of House Speaker John Boehner and the VW diesel car scandal -- two rather extraordinary events -- might not initially appear to be related, but there is a connection. The most conservative members of the Republican caucus celebrated Representative Boehner's resignation because they felt he did not fight hard enough to shrink the size of the federal government through more aggressive tactics, like government shutdowns. Although one of government's most important functions is to deter behavior such as ...

Ten Years After Katrina: Government Can Save Lives and Money

by Sidney Shapiro | August 27, 2015
With the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina upon us, looking back on CPR’s landmark report on the disaster reveals two essential public policy insights. One is that a series of government policy failures resulted in a far worse disaster than would have occurred if government had been more pro-active.  The second is that more effective government requires addressing and resolving what are often difficult policy issues, something that requires an ongoing dialogue and attention to what experts know and do not know about ...

Fairness and Equity Are Also American Values

by Sidney Shapiro | August 10, 2015
The New Push to Protect American Workers from the Conditions of the Marketplace  In 1873, when Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner published their book, The Gilded Age, they satirized the greed, political corruption, and skewed distribution of wealth that pervaded the United States at the time. As during Twain’s time, most of the wealth generated in this country in recent decades has gone only to the very wealthiest among us. For Americans who work for a minimum wage, there ...

Regulatory Delay: Why It Took OSHA 25 Years to Promulgate a Construction Safety Rule

by Sidney Shapiro | May 28, 2015
OSHA has finally promulgated a Confined Spaces in Construction rule.  The agency waited 25 years after it had issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to issue a rule.   Administrative law academics have been concerned for some time about the ossification of rulemaking due to a set of regulatory hurdles imposed by regulatory opponents. Proponents say these hurdles are necessary to ensure the accuracy and reasonableness of regulations, but they also deny workers and others of regulatory protection for ...

Workers Are Safer at Work, But Not as Safe as They Could and Should Be

by Sidney Shapiro | April 27, 2015
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that the occupational fatality rate of 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers for 2013 was the lowest reported rate since the BLS started using its current tracking methodology in 2006.  That’s good news, but we’ve got a very long way to go still. The simple truth is that workers are not as safe as they could and should be. Although the fatality rate is down, there were still 4,585 occupational fatalities in 2013.  ...

The First Earth Day and Current Political Gridlock

by Sidney Shapiro | April 22, 2015
Forty-five years ago I joined hundreds of people in Fairmont Park in Philadelphia for the first Earth Day.  The sad state of the environment on that day was all too apparent.  The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was so polluted that it caught on fire the year before.   The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill is still the third largest oil spill in American history. The air pollution in America’s cities – palpable air – had reached epidemic proportions.  Rachael Carson’s book, ...

Irresponsible Reform: The House Favors Extreme Legislation That Would Delay Public Protections by Ten Years or More

by Sidney Shapiro | January 13, 2015
Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, which would amend the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to add over 74 new procedural requirements to the rule-making process, including more than 29 new “documentation” requirements.  The goal of administrative procedure is to ensure that the government’s adoption of regulation is accountable and fair, but not at the expense of hamstringing the ability of agencies to fulfill the public interest.  The House obviously has no such concern.  ...

New Legislation: How the House of Representatives Would Use Scientific Uncertainty to Stop Environmental Legislation

by Sidney Shapiro | November 20, 2014
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (H.R. 1422) that prohibits academic scientists on EPA’s Scientific Advisory committee from participating in “activities that directly or indirectly involve review of evaluation of their own work,” but allows scientists who work for industry to serve on the Board as long as they reveal their respective conflicts of interest. To understand the House’s real motives, it is necessary to appreciate how industry seeks to use scientific uncertainty as an excuse not to act ...

Chemical Industry takes Aim at Citizen Suits with 'Reform' Bill

by Sidney Shapiro | February 07, 2014
The recent chemical spill disaster in West Virginia has brought into sharp focus the weak measures we have in place for safeguarding people and the environment against exposures to harmful chemicals.  State and civil justice systems have helped to fill the resulting void by providing individuals who have suffered harmful exposures with an opportunity to hold accountable any people or corporations responsible for the chemical by seeking reasonable compensation for their injuries.  It’s often difficult to win these cases, and ...

A Turning of the Tide? More Belief in Government, Less Blind Faith in Markets

by Sidney Shapiro | January 30, 2014
Suddenly politics in this country appears to have taken a turn toward democracy and away from markets. As we develop in a book just published by Oxford University Press, discussing economic inequality. Regulation of Wall Street proceeds apace after the investment banks and mortgage lenders sank the American economy with their recklessness as they now write multi-billion dollar checks for their malfeasance. If indeed the tide has turned, the country is emerging from a cycle deemphasizing government that dates back ...

Senate Republicans against DC Circuit Court nominees: talking through their hats

by Sidney Shapiro | October 30, 2013
This week, it was reported that Senate Democrats plan to force a vote to confirm one judicial nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals if Republican Senators continue to block the nominee’s confirmation. Patricia Ann Millett, who has worked for Democratic and Republican administrations in the past, is the contested candidate.  Although the circuit court has three vacancies, the Republicans oppose a vote because they say the D.C. Court of Appeals has too many judges. Senator Jefferson Sessions, for example, ...

New CPR Issue Alert on toxics: reform must help, not hinder states and victims’ rights

by Sidney Shapiro | October 28, 2013
In the United States, the framework for safeguarding people and the environment against the dangers of toxic chemicals comprises three mutually reinforcing legal systems: federal regulation, state and federal civil justice systems, and state regulation. Each part of the framework however, has been substantially weakened — the civil justice systems by years of tort "reform," and federal and state regulatory systems by outdated laws and an ongoing campaign by industry and its allies against protective regulation.  Congress is now considering competing ...

More Politics, Less Expertise: What OIRA has Wrought

by Sidney Shapiro | October 03, 2013
As indicated by the 20th anniversary of Executive Order 12866, which guides the workings of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at OMB, OIRA has become a fixture of the regulatory landscape.  OIRA review of proposed rules is problematic, as other blogs in this series have indicated.   In the Obama administration, however, this is an additional problem. Other offices in the White House, besides OIRA, are more deeply involved in making regulatory decisions than in any other previous administration. ...

The SBA’s Office of Advocacy Criticism of Its ‘Crain and Crain’ Report: A Dollar Short and A Day Late

by Sidney Shapiro | October 01, 2013
Call it buyer’s remorse. The Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) is publicly—albeit meekly—tiptoeing away from a now-infamous report that it commissioned, in which economists Nicole Crain and Mark Crain purported to find that federal regulations cost the economy $1.75 trillion in 2008. After being roundly criticized by CPR, the Congressional Research Service, and others, SBA’s Office of Advocacy now explains, referring apparently to the $1.75 trillion figure that “the findings of the study have been taken out of ...

What We Will Be Listening for at the Howard Shelanski Confirmation Hearing

by Sidney Shapiro | June 11, 2013
The confirmation hearing for Howard Shelanski, President Obama’s pick to serve as the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is set to take place Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.  If confirmed, Shelanski would become the Administration’s new “Regulatory Czar,” a description that indicates the significant influence OIRA’s administrator has concerning what agency rules look like and, indeed, whether those rules are issued at all. Shelanski’s confirmation hearing comes at ...

Talking Through Their Hats: The Opposition to President Obama’s D.C. Circuit Court Nominees

by Sidney Shapiro | June 05, 2013
In the old television series, "Cheers," barfly and braggart Cliff Clavin was a guy who was forever "talking through his hat," offering up an endless supply of ridiculous factoids and explanations. Cliff made for good television, but the same cannot be said for the Senate Republicans who seem to be borrowing his approach. That's what's at work with the Republican effort to block President Obama’s nomination of three distinguished lawyers to fill longstanding vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of ...

Also from Sidney Shapiro

Sidney A. Shapiro holds the Fletcher Chair in Administrative Law at the Wake Forest University School of Law and is the Associate Dean for Research and Development. He is a member of the board of directors of the Center for Progressive Reform.

Shining Light on Regulatory Capture: Four Proposals

Shapiro | Mar 11, 2016 | Regulatory Policy

John Boehner, Volkswagen, and the Role of Government

Shapiro | Oct 06, 2015 | Food, Drug, Product Safety

Ten Years After Katrina: Government Can Save Lives and Money

Shapiro | Aug 27, 2015 | Regulatory Policy

Fairness and Equity Are Also American Values

Shapiro | Aug 10, 2015 | Regulatory Policy
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