Encouraging Reaction to Sunstein as OMB Regulatory Chief

By January 8, 2009Regulations

Iain Murray of the free-market think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, considers Cass Sunstein a good pick to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB (see earlier post). That’s an encouraging endorsement to those in the business community worried by the possibility of agenda-driven regulatory overkill by an Obama Administration.

From The Corner, National Review Online:

A Good Pick [Iain Murray]

I was cheered this morning by the news that Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago is to be the next head of OIRA, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. While not someone a libertarian conservative would necessarily appoint, he is possibly the best choice possible that Obama could have made, and his friendship with the President-elect suggests he will have some power. In particular, Prof. Sunstein has been a very strong opponent of the Precautionary Principle, which is the rock upon which many environmental regulatory initiatives are built. He also called CEI’s litigation to draw attention to the fatal consequences of CAFE regulation “the principal case involving the issue of health-health tradeoffs.”

Todd Zywicki and Glenn Reynolds also applaud the appointment.


UPDATE (1:25 p.m.): A follow-up post by Murray reminds us that Sunstein is a prominent and effective critic of the “precautionary principle,” the demand that every product be proved safe before entering the market. The plaintiff’s bar and their allies among “consumer activists” promote the principle in order to burden the private sector with more costs and potential liability, but it poses an impossible standard to meet: Prove that your product is NOT dangerous.

Sunstein has written a book on the topic, “Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle.” For the short version, see his Boston Globe column last July, “Throwing precaution to the wind.”

Leave a Reply