August 03, 2012

Cass Sunstein's Departure

The White House today announced the departure of Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. CPR President Rena Steinzor issued the following statement:  

Cass Sunstein brought impressive credentials and a personal relationship with the President to his job as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. But in the final analysis, Sunstein has continued the Bush Administration’s tradition of using the office to block needed health and safety protections disliked by big business and political contributors. Worse, the narrative that Sunstein helped craft about the impact of regulations on American life — that regulatory safeguards are fundamentally suspect — was discordant with the rest of the President's agenda and the arguments he makes for his reelection.

Sunstein’s departure is an opportunity for the Administration to reset its regulatory policy and embrace public health and safety protections that have long been stalled in the White House. But the President first needs to rethink what he wants from OIRA and its administrator. The middle of a presidential campaign is a lousy time to do that. Sending a nominee into the mosh pit of a Senate confirmation hearing right now would do nothing to advance the cause of a progressive regulatory agenda. The President should take his time and find an Administrator dedicated to protecting the public. Allowing OIRA to serve on behalf of the White House as the last refuge for disgruntled polluters, Wall Street speculators, and producers of tainted food will not prevent the inevitable next wave of health and safety disasters, killing and injuring refinery workers, miners, children who labor in the fields, and the environment of the Gulf coast.
 


Rena Steinzor, Professor of Law, University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Bio.

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1 Very well put.
-- DONALD ELISBURG
2 You don't really think any significant regulations will be issued in the next three+ months regardless of who the OIRA Administrator is, do you? And then, if Obama loses, a bunch well, again regardless of who is manning the wheel at OIRA.
-- Stuart Shapiro
3 How much of the actual decisions of OIRA are administrator-dependent and how much are because of an outlook of the career civil servants, potentially influenced by professional norms, does anyone know? I'm asking because of the continuity you highlight. Do you know research on this?
-- Dorit Reiss
4 Dorit, I don't know of research separating the Administrator from the civil servants. What I can tell you from experience and literature is that both the Administrator and the civil servants struggle to balance their jobs of reviewing cost-benefit analysis and serving their President. I've written on how this conflict is usually resolved in favor of politics.
-- Stuart Shapiro

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