Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Regulatory Czar

President Obama, in what I view to be one of his best decisions, nominated Cass Sunstein to lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The so-called regulatory czar can have an enormous effect on environmental regulations and regulatory analysis, since OIRA is required to review and approve regulations that have a $100 million-plus effect on the economy. I have enormous respect for Professor Sunstein. Much of my research coincides with Sunstein's solid work on the value of human life and cost-benefit analysis.

The Hill, however, reports that Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) wishes to block Sunstein's nomination. The basis for Sen. Chambliss's opposition is statements Sunstein made about hunting and the rights of plants and animals. I find this resistance silly for at least three reasons.

First, no matter what Republicans do, they likely don't have enough votes to block the confirmation of Sunstein. Second, on all matters related to his future job description, Sunstein is quite moderate. Republicans can't hope to do much better but could certainly do much worse. Third, Sunstein likely won't be required to review hunting regulations. Even if he did, he would be required by law to follow cost-benefit guidelines, not his own political agenda.

I hope Sunstein is confirmed as soon as possible.

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