Noli Illegitimi Carborundum, Susan

By January 13, 2007General

President Bush this week renominated Susan Dudley to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget, a post designed to keep regulation in compliance with law and Administration policy. Dudley (bio here) is an economist and former civil servant who served with distinction in the EPA and OMB; most recently she directed the Regulatory Studies Program of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Her nomination last July failed to move in the Senate thanks to a campaign of distortion and calumny from left-wing special interests who fear an objective analysis of regulatory effectiveness, especially in the area of environmental protection. This week, with her renomination, the attacks returned with renewed vigor and viciousness. OMB Watch and Public Citizen again hauled out their compendium of distortions, a report that supposedly revealed her “extreme views.” Clean Air Watch’s president, Frank O’Donnell, attacked her as an “anti-regulatory zealot,” adding a gratuitous, race-tinged slur, “Putting Dudley in this key federal post would be like naming comedian Michael Richards to head the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.”

Ugly nonsense. Heritage Foundation’s James L. Gattuso analyzed Dudley’s record versus the pro-regulatory excesses of her critics last November in this piece, noting that six former OIRA directors, including a Clinton appointee, had defended Dudley as “committed to ensuring that regulations are evaluated objectively and that the review process is transparent.” Writing in the National Review, Jonathan Adler also refuted point-by-point the distortions levied against Dudley. His conclusion then remains true a half-year later:

Given the hyperbole and outright falsehoods lodged against her, opposition to Dudley seems less motivated by her record and experience than by an antipathy for Bush-administration regulatory policies. Dudley’s credentials and experience, both in and out of the federal government, will make her an effective champion of the administration’s regulatory philosophy. In this regard, any thoughtful, analytically trained, and experienced regulatory official is a threat, because she would make the administration more effective. If activist groups object to Bush regulatory policies, they should oppose them on the merits, instead of smearing a principled and qualified nominee.

Unfortunately, the politics of personal destruction works all too well in Washington, and Dudley’s confirmation seems unlikely. Perhaps in anticipation of a recess appointment, President Bush has named her a senior White House advisor for regulatory affairs. We wish her every success in the important effort to bring fairness and economic rationality to federal regulations.

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