A Smooth Confirmation Hearing for Sunstein to Head OIRA

By May 13, 2009Regulations

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held a relatively short (less than one-hour) confirmation hearing yesterday on the nomination of Harvard law professor — and friend of President Obama — Cass Sunstein to head the Office of Regulatory and Information Affairs. Some good discussion of regulatory policy, a few assurances about the Second Amendment and hunting (Sunstein supports them), and affirmations of the value of transparency.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who chairs the committee, said he would vote for Sunstein’s nomination.

Prepared statements:

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Sunstein’s remarks made clear that for him, cost-benefit analysis is not an intellectual exercise but a means to deliver greater benefits for the American public at lower costs. It should not be used as a hammer to beat back regulation, nor should it be discarded in favor of omnipotent federal agencies. Instead it should be employed judiciously to select regulatory approaches that achieve maximum net benefits for society.

This new approach to regulation could not come at a better time. The recent fiscal meltdown clarified the degree of our interconnectedness–a loose screw on Wall Street can send homes in Arizona to the foreclosure auction blocks; a blind eye in Washington can result in a tsunami of wet coal sludge in Tennessee. We can no longer afford to pay the social cost of letting corporations “self-regulate,” nor can we afford to place unnecessary burdens on already struggling businesses.

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