Amid the latest wave of voter suppression laws across the nation, Senate Democrats last week unveiled new voting rights legislation.
This legislation aims to safeguard the voting rights of millions of Americans. Ensuring access to the ballot for all eligible citizens is, of course, crucial to the health and integrity of American democracy. More than that, though, it is an essential precondition for the effective functioning of our regulatory system. Put simply: When voters’ voices are suppressed, lawmakers and agency officials may be less responsive to their needs — and more likely to favor those of corporations and other special interests.
Public support for regulations
Corporations often fight any regulations that threaten to restrict their profits; the general public, however, strongly supports protective regulations across the political spectrum.
This is true even of issues that provoke sharp disagreements among elected officials. When it comes to addressing pollution and climate change, for example, more assertive regulations are broadly popular with voters across the ideological spectrum, according to a 2021 poll by the Center for Progressive Reform and Data for Progress.
Because voters overwhelmingly favor protective regulations, more voting means a stronger regulatory system.
History bears this out.
The 1960s and ‘70s saw …
This week, CPR is launching its Beyond 12866 initiative, an online platform focused on promoting a progressive vision for rebuilding the U.S. regulatory system. Such a regulatory system will be essential not only to achieving the progressive vision of a more just and equitable society; it will also do the heavy practical lifting needed for implementing key elements of a progressive policy agenda, such as the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and Black Lives Matter movement.
This initiative begins from the recognition that in the near term, such progressive regulatory reform will need to be accomplished administratively, as opposed to legislatively, given the divisive politics of the issue and ongoing congressional dysfunction more generally. Using such administrative tools as executive orders and memoranda, the president in particular has considerable influence over how the regulatory system operates, and appropriately so given his (gendered language intended, unfortunately …
Originally published by The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.
Much of the discussion of the Trump administration's failed handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has focused on its delayed, and then insufficiently urgent, response, as well as the President's apparent effort to talk and tweet the virus into submission. All are fair criticisms. But the bungled initial response—or lack of response—was made immeasurably worse by the administration's confused and confusing allocation of authority to perform or supervise tasks essential to reducing the virus's damaging effects. Those mistakes hold important lessons.
The administration's management of the pandemic has been hampered by misallocation of authority along three different but interacting dimensions. First, it has been marred by overlapping authority that has resulted in waste, while failing to capitalize on this overlap's potential to safeguard against shirking and inaction. Second, it has reflected a thoughtless mix of centralized and …
During the coronavirus crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci has become the voice of reason. Much of the public turns to him for critical information about public health while even President Trump finds it necessary to listen. In the Trump era, no one plays that role in the environmental arena. The result is a mindless campaign of deregulation that imperils public health and safety.
We can't clone Dr. Fauci or duplicate the unique circumstances that have made his voice so powerful. However, we can do several things that would make it harder for administrations to ignore science:
UPDATE (4/29/20): CPR's Deregulation on Demand paper was recently cited and discussed in an amicus brief filed by Sens. Whitehouse, Merkley, Gillibrand, Schatz, and Markey supporting a case against the ACE rule (American Lung Association v. EPA). You can read the brief here.
Who does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) work for? The answer would seem to be us, the American public, given that the statutes it is charged with implementing are focused first and foremost on protecting our health and the natural environment we all depend upon. The Trump administration, however, has transformed this critical protector agency into a powerful of tool of corporate polluters, one dedicated to fattening these industries’ already healthy bottom lines at the expense of the broader public interest.
The evidence of this brazen degree of corporate capture at the Trump EPA abounds. The upper echelons of the agency’s …
Originally published on The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.
Ever since Ronald Reagan declared government to be the problem rather than the solution, the federal bureaucracy has been the target of criticism from right-leaning think tanks, regulatory skeptics in academia, and politicians of all political persuasions. Lately, members of the federal judiciary have visibly joined this chorus of criticism.
Among the charges leveled against regulation and the agencies responsible for issuing and enforcing rules is the claim that, even assuming the validity of regulatory goals, traditional regulatory approaches too often fail to achieve them or impose unjustified social costs. Others assert that regulatory "intrusions" on the operation of the free market are antithetical to the protection of individual liberty and the economic system on which our nation was built.
We take a different view.
Government regulation serves a critical role in promoting the public interest by, for …
Public participation is one of the cornerstones of U.S. administrative law, and perhaps nothing better exemplifies its value than the notice-and-comment rulemaking process through which stakeholders can provide input on a proposed rule. Yet there remains an inherent tension in the democratic potential of this process. In reviewing final rules, courts demand that agencies demonstrate that those rules are responsive to any substantive comments they receive. But courts generally limit this requirement to comments containing legal or technical information.
This approach to judicial supervision of agency rulemaking is just one of many forces that have helped transform what should be a democratic rulemaking process into a technocratic exercise. On the plus side, expertise-centered rulemaking has substantially improved regulatory quality. These gains, however, have come with some important unintended consequences.
For one, the growing hegemony of technocratic decision-making …
While regulatory policy developments might not lead evening news broadcasts or dominate newspaper headlines, they can have an enormous impact on our day-to-day lives. Regulatory policy has been a particular hotbed of activity during the Trump administration, which swept into office determined to undermine or corrupt the institutions responsible for keeping Americans and their environment secure against unacceptable risks of harm. So, it is no surprise that 2018 was another busy year in regulatory policy. Here are 10 of the biggest stories I’ve followed, in no particular order: