What does the Office of Management and Budget have to do with our health and our environment? Well, the OMB effectively has the last word on the regulations Federal agencies write to implement Federal Law. For decades, OMB’s been where proposed Federal rules to keep poison out of our lives meet lethal doses of
corporate bribes "deregulation". At OMB, the entire Federal regulatory channel gets squeezed so narrowly that one person has the power to stop new rules. Who does PEBO want to put in command of OMB’s health and environmental rules? A Libertarian who predictably opposes "mandates and bans". Meet the new Borgias — same as the old Borgias. Meet our new BFF, Cass Sunstein.
But as co-chair of the American Enterprise Institute Center for Regulatory and Market Studies advisory board, Sunstein works for one of the nation’s most influential right-wing corporate anti-regulatory think tanks.
But of course. Why should Cass waste his time on environmental justice when the AEI can write him checks? In a free market, everything’s for sale. Right, Cass?
For a long time, the nation has been split between two types: old-style Democrats, favoring mandates and bans, and new(ish)-style Republicans, insisting that markets and free choice should be respected. Richard Thaler and I think that there is a way to avoid mandates and bans, and to respect free choice, while also helping people to make better decisions.
In short, we hope that libertarian paternalism might provide a real third way…. Thus, for example, libertarian paternalism offers fresh ways of thinking about the mortgage crisis, credit card reform, savings for retirement, prescription drugs, health care, environmental law…
If you have small children, good ol’ Cass’s lucrative ideology gives them the freedom to suck down a whole lot more poison. Does it give us the freedom to have our food and water free of man-made poisons? Not so much. Folks, can’t you just feel the post-partisan love?
Oh Brave New OMB to have such sophists in it!
Regulations sometimes give rise to substitute risks. DDT, for example, is often regulated in the interest of protecting birds and human health. In poor nations, though, DDT bans eliminate what appears to be the most effective way of combating malaria – and thus significantly undermine public health.
Or consider the "drug lag," produced whenever the government takes a highly precautionary approach to the introduction of new drugs. Stringent review protects people against inadequately tested drugs; but it will also prevent people from receiving the benefits of new medications. Is it "precautionary" to require extensive testing, or to do the opposite?
Yay us – more Vioxx!
The Corner loves Cass’s take on the Precautionary Principle…
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.
…and fuel economy standards. [They sez Glenn Reynolds loves Cass, too.]
Thanks, Cass, for the object lesson in why the most reactionary forces in America pour money into subsidizing those good ‘ol free market libertarians: gutting regulations will make billions.
Much of the big money behind the conservative and libertarian think tanks can be traced back to foundations created by a handful of very wealthy individuals: Charles G. Koch and his brother David H. Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Adolph Coors, Lynde and Harry Bradley and John M. Olin.
Cass, they’ll love seeing your move to Office of Management and Budget and with oversight on environmental, healthcare, and safety issues. And they should: with an AEI Libertarian running the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs – the White House office in charge of clearing federal regulations, they’re getting exactly what they paid for.
Cass, you may be too
modest shrewd to show how hard you’ve worked on behalf of the Libertarians’ sugar daddies, but Think Progress shows just how much you can deliver for them at OIRA.
How would progressives respond if President Bush nominated as "regulatory czar" a person who:
– Once called for changing the Clean Air Act to require a balancing of costs and benefits in setting national clean air standards – a fundamental weakening long sought by big polluters who believe it would help them resist cleanup;
– Urged the federal government to devalue senior citizens in calculating the benefits of federal regulations because "A program that saves young people produces more welfare than one that saves old people." This is a concept dubbed the "senior death discount," and that environmentalists forced EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to renounce in 2003;
The Hamilton Project — and the neo-liberalism that owns it — wins again. They choose their
supplicants servants well. Cass, have they given you your bone yet, or is it waiting under the Supreme Court seat the same way Chief Justice Roberts’ was?