CPR Archive for James Goodwin

How Conservatives Sell Off the Federal Budget, Bit by Bit, to the Highest Bidder

by James Goodwin | May 02, 2016

Once upon a time, congressional conservatives pretended to care about the appearance, if not the reality, of corruption afflicting the federal budgeting process. Strangely, they chose to act on their sanctimonious outrage by banning earmarks – or legislative instructions that direct federal agencies to spend appropriated funds on certain specified projects – while leaving the much greater problem of "limitations riders" intact. These riders essentially function as the reverse of earmarks by prohibiting federal agencies from spending appropriated funds on certain specified projects, and today, they are typically used to block public safeguards at the behest of powerful corporate interests. 

Last year, I published a report along with CPR Member Scholars Tom McGarity and Richard Murphy that examined the growing problem of anti-regulatory limitation riders in the current Republican-controlled Congress. To highlight this problem, we looked at the then-pending Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bills moving through both chambers of Congress. These bills, which are used to fund the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior, were larded with dozens of anti-regulatory riders that targeted several critical rules those agencies were working on, including rules to limit carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, protect public health and the environment from harmful ozone, and safeguard fragile headwater ecosystems against the ravages of mountaintop removal mining. 

If enacted into law, these kinds of anti-regulatory riders would be disastrous for the public interest. For example, our report found that just ...

CPR's Mintz Outlines Flaws of House Bill That Would Undercut SEPs

by James Goodwin | April 28, 2016
Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar Joel Mintz submitted written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law ahead of its hearing this morning on yet another ill-advised bill, the misleadingly named "Stop Settlement Funds Slush Funds Act of 2016." The bill would place arbitrary limits on how the federal government can use funds it obtains through settlement agreements that arise from enforcement actions brought against companies that have violated federal laws and the ...

On Regulatory Reform, It's Now Warren vs. Sunstein

by James Goodwin | April 19, 2016
Several weeks ago, Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered perhaps the most important speech on the U.S. regulatory system in recent memory at a forum on regulatory capture organized by the Administrative Conference of the United States. In it, she described how the regulatory system was not working for the people as it should be – or as Congress had intended. Instead, she described how corporate influence over the regulatory process has become so far-reaching and so overwhelming that it has become ...

No Benefits Allowed? Mercatus Study on Federal Regulation and the States

by James Goodwin | April 08, 2016
Over the last few years, deregulatory advocates have pursued a well-trodden path for advancing their anti-safeguard agenda: Publish a large, glossy "study," replete with impressive mathiness, that purports to measure the impacts of regulation but in fact provides a highly skewed portrayal by consciously ignoring the many benefits that regulations provide. (For example, see here, here, and here.) Last week, the libertarian Mercatus Center did the latest trodding when it released a study that ranked all 50 states (and the ...

18th Straight OMB Annual Report in a Row Finds Total Regulatory Net Benefits

by James Goodwin | March 15, 2016
Over the weekend, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the final draft of its annual report on the costs and benefits of federal regulation, which purports to provide a reasonably complete picture of the total impact that federal regulations have on the U.S. economy. This year’s final report finds that federal regulations generated total benefits in the range of $216 billion to $812 billion (in 2001 dollars; in 2010 dollars, the range recalculates to $261 billion ...

CPR's Shapiro Joins ACUS Forum on Regulatory Capture Today

by James Goodwin | March 03, 2016
CPR Vice President Sid Shapiro is among the many distinguished panelists participating this monring in a forum called "Regulatory Capture in the 21st Century." The forum is hosted by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent federal agency that works to provide Congress with advice on improving the administrative system. The event will feature remarks from Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Mike Lee (R-UT). Professor Shapiro will participate in a panel that looks at regulatory capture in ...

Senate Republicans Flip-Flop on the White House and Independent Agencies

by James Goodwin | March 02, 2016
Yesterday, the Republican members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC)—the Senate committee with primary oversight jurisdiction over the regulatory system—published a report detailing their shock and dismay over a Wall Street Journal story alleging that the White House "may have inappropriately influenced" the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) so-called "net neutrality" rule. In releasing the report, Committee Chairman Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) could barely contain his contempt: "It is concerning that an independent agency like the FCC ...

Midnight Regulations, Shmidnight Shmegulations

by James Goodwin | February 12, 2016
In case you didn’t get the memo:  President Obama is entering the last year of his final term in office, so now we’re all supposed to be panicking over a dreaded phenomenon known as “midnight regulations.”  According to legend, midnight rulemaking takes place when outgoing administrations rush out a bunch of regulations during their last few days in order to burnish their legacy or make concrete several of their policy priorities in ways that would be difficult for a successor—presumably ...

Senate Antiregulatory Package Bill is Selling Corporate Welfare, But the New York Times Editorial Page Isn’t Buying

by James Goodwin | January 20, 2016
Still just a few weeks into the new year, both chambers of Congress are making it clear that attacks on our system of regulatory safeguards will remain a top priority in 2016.   The GOP-controlled House of Representatives has already passed—along partisan lines—two antiregulatory measures, and the Senate appears poised to follow suit with their own antiregulatory package expected to drop sometime this week. CPR Member Scholars and staff are tracking all of these developments, working to educate policymakers about how ...

VapeMentors, the Fat Cat Vapor Shop, and Cosmic Fog Vapors All Walk Into an Obscure White House Office...

by James Goodwin | December 16, 2015
This week appears to mark the end of an extraordinary period in the history of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the shadowy bureau charged with reviewing and revising pending agency rules, which too often ensures they are not overly inconvenient for affected industries.  For the last month and a half, a Mos Eisley-esque mélange of characters has streamed through the front doors to lobby OIRA’s gang of economists and political operatives over a pending rule that would ...

At Senate Hearing, CPR's Verchick Provides Sole Voice of Reason on Flawed 'Regulatory Budgeting' Proposal

by James Goodwin | December 09, 2015
This morning, CPR President and Loyola University, New Orleans, Law Professor Robert R.M. Verchick testifies at a hearing convened by the Senate Budget Committee to examine a dangerous regulatory policy proposal known as “regulatory budgeting.” As he explains in his testimony, regulatory budgeting represents a stark departure from the traditional focus of regulatory policy discussions, which have long been concerned with improving the effectiveness—or quality—of regulatory decision-making. Regulatory budgeting, by contrast, makes the total number—or quantity—of regulations the primary focus, ...

Obama’s ‘Path to Progress’ Looking Forward: Much to Do and Little Time to Do It

by James Goodwin | December 02, 2015
In a post last week, I noted that, over the last year, the Obama Administration has finalized all or part of several of the 13 regulatory actions highlighted in a 2014 Center for Progressive Reform report challenging the President to focus renewed energy during the remainder of his term on securing critical new protections for people and the environment. But the President’s to-do list isn’t finished, and for the remaining regulatory actions on the list, progress has been modest or, in some cases, ...

One Year In, the Administration’s ‘Path to Progress’ Benefits American People and Environment

by James Goodwin | November 24, 2015
From the moment they secured majorities in both chambers, congressional Republicans have made no secret of their intention to launch an all-out, guerilla warfare-style campaign against the federal government — and even the very notion of governance itself. Accordingly, they have pursued a strategy of salt-the-earth sabotage designed to spread like a communicable disease the dysfunction that has long characterized the legislative branch to the executive branch. Given the unrepentant nihilism, many political observers were quick to pen their epitaphs for ...

Fall 2015 Regulatory Agenda is Out; Clock is Ticking

by James Goodwin | November 20, 2015
Opponents of safeguards are fond of decrying what they claim is a regulatory system out of control, churning out rules at a break-neck pace.  It’s not difficult to refute  this claim when the president releases the twice-annual regulatory agenda, which spells out all the active rulemakings that are currently pending and the expected time Each of these new delays should be of great concern, since they translate into real costs to the public interest.  The costs might be measured in ...

Ten Things I Hate About Jeb's Antiregulatory Regulatory Reform Plan

by James Goodwin | October 05, 2015
Consistent with his ongoing efforts to distinguish himself among the Republican presidential candidates as a serious “policy wonk,” Jeb Bush, “rolled out” his “regulatory reform” plan last week.  The sad truth, though, is that the plan contains little of what might be considered sober or intellectually rigorous.   Rather, it is simply a mishmash of warmed over ideas from candidate Mitt Romney’s 2012 regulatory reform plan and from the various antiregulatory bills that have been festering in Congress the last several ...

New Research Affirms That Corporate Interest Lobbying at OIRA Holds Sway

by James Goodwin | August 05, 2015
When asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, the notorious bank robber Willie Sutton is said to have responded, “Because that’s where the money is.”  For decades, the accepted conventional wisdom held that a similar dynamic motivated legions of industry lobbyists to parade through the front door at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  Why—one might ask—does industry spend so much time complaining to OIRA’s political appointees and staff-level economists about rules they find inconvenient ...

The SBA Office of Advocacy . . . Taxpayer Funded Lobbyist for Berkshire Hathaway?

by James Goodwin | July 22, 2015
When it commenced on June 1, OIRA’s review of the EPA’s draft final rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants launched a flurry of lobbying activity among a veritable who’s who of America’s largest fossil fuel polluters.   In just over six weeks, the White House’s antiregulatory shop has presided over no less than 21 Executive Order 12866 meetings, the majority of which involved high-priced corporate lobbyists seeking to dilute, delay, or block the rule outright. The log ...

The Real Nine Most Terrifying Words in the English Language

by James Goodwin | July 15, 2015
“I’m Republican, and I want to do regulatory reform.”  Whether they’ve uttered that exact nine-word phrase or not, virtually every Republican on Capitol Hill has enthusiastically endorsed the sentiment it expresses at some point—if not on a near-daily basis—during the last few years.  Who could blame them?  The unshakable conviction that our regulatory system is broken and that gutting it is the key to its salvation is apparently one of the few areas where all the GOP’s members can find ...

Also from James Goodwin

James Goodwin, J.D., M.P.P., is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Center for Progressive Reform. He joined CPR in May of 2008.

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