Susan Dudley Archives - Shopfloor

Circumnetting the President’s Executive Order on Regulations

By | Labor Unions, Regulations | One Comment

Federal News Radio’s report, “Obama’s regulatory reforms draw mixed reviews,” provides a thorough round-up of the reaction to President Obama’s new positioning on federal regulations, including the Executive Order, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” It’s informative to read the comments Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“The Executive Order makes clear that the look back process will occur with full understanding of the agency’s priority settings and resource constraints in a tough budgetary environment. So we expect the agencies will take this process very seriously but do so in way that recognizes resources are not unlimited.”

Sunstein said agencies will have to find a way to do the look back based on the resources they have already.

“I don’t anticipate any additional budgetary assistance for the look back,” he said. “We do anticipate a rule of reason where agencies will be expected to make their own choices about how to balance the cost because in many of the agencies there either is some process of look back and because of all agencies there is considerable expertise about the existing set of programs, we don’t think this will require huge resources to be invested.”

Phew, exhaled the EPA officials. We have so many pending regulations that we really don’t have the budget and personnel to go back a look at the old ones. Carry on!

And at least one activist sees the new review process as an opportunity for MORE regulations. Gary Bass, head of OMBWatch, commented: “Bass said by looking back at existing regulations agencies may find not only outdated policies, but also gaps where new ones are needed.” Read More

Obama to Name Lawyer Friend to Top OMB Regulatory Post

By | Economy, Regulations | One Comment

From today’s Washington Post, “Obama to Name Lawyer Friend To Regulatory Affairs Position“:

President-elect Barack Obama will name Cass R. Sunstein, a close friend and one of the nation’s top constitutional lawyers, to a senior-level post in charge of government regulation, a transition official said.

Sunstein, a Harvard University law professor who grew close to Obama during their years at the University of Chicago, will become the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Obama talked on the campaign trail about the need to revamp the nation’s regulatory structure, especially in housing and finance, areas in which lapses contributed to the current economic crisis.

In his new position, Sunstein will oversee reform of regulations, seeking to find smarter approaches and better results in health, environment and other domestic areas, a transition source said.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs can do good things in imposing discipline and regulatory restraint on the executive branch agencies, examining the costs and unintended consequences that result from excessive rulemaking. For that reason, the Bush OIRA has been the subject of intense, often personalized criticism from the activist crowd who never met a regulation it didn’t like. (See below.)

We don’t know enough about Sunstein (Harvard CV) to offer an informed opinion, although he’s certainly mentioned prominently enough in legal publications and the blogosphere. In any case, we promise not to engage in the kind of smearing that was practiced against Susan Dudley and her predecessors.

Earlier posts (2007)

P.S. Speaking of Susan Dudley, she came to the Bush Administration from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a free-market oriented think thank. Indeed, George Mason University is often seen as an outpost of University of Chicago economics in northern Virginia. So President-elect Obama gives his economic stimulus speech today at GMU. How interesting.

Long Before Midnight, Regulatory Stepping Down

By | General | 2 Comments

From the White House press briefing, September 4th, with spokeswoman Dana Perino:

Q At the end of the Clinton administration, the White House was criticized for putting out a lot of so-called midnight regulation, and this May, Josh Bolten put out a memo instructing federal agencies not to do that. Yet have they — has the White House reversed its policy? Because several federal agencies have proposed rules since the cut-off date.

MS. PERINO: I’ll go back and look at the memo, but I think that all the agencies are complying with what Josh asked for. And I think what he was wanting is, one, good government so that you weren’t rushing things through at the last minute. And to my knowledge, the agencies that have put forward proposed regulations have done so in a timely fashion and in a way that they can get sufficient public comment so that they meet the obligations and laws of this country.

The memo in question came from Chief of Staff Bolten on May 9th (a copy is here), setting the deadline for new regs on June 1, as reported in The New York Times in “Administration Moves to Avert a Late Rules Rush” and a Bloomberg column by Cyndi Skrzycki, “Bush Aims to Stop Midnight Surge of New Rules.”

The Clinton Administration set a record with its last-minute “Midnight regulations,” sharply criticized by Susan Dudley when she was at the Mercatus Center; she now heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB, so actions match rhetoric match philosophy. Good.

As the Administration argues, this really is good government. Regulations are given full and fair scrutiny, those to be regulated aren’t hit with new and expensive surprises, and the next Administration doesn’t have to spend its first six months undoing all the mischief and defusing all the mines left over from its predecessor.

But, you can just bet the next time America is blessed with Administration that embraces the expansion of the regulatory state, Executive Branch officials will feel no such compunction. The scale only tilts one way.