Obama Administration’s Cass Sunstein – Money or Lives
“Now Congress is trying to make things even worse. A package of regulatory “reforms” — including a few of Sunstein’s proposals — will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate. As a recent editorial from The New York Times pointed out, these measures would harm our system of public protections by letting Big Business rig the rules in its favor at the expense of working families, consumers and small businesses.
It is not surprising that Sunstein has a blind spot when it comes to delays. Regulatory delays at the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) were systemic and reached unprecedented levels while he served as the agency’s administrator, levels even worse than under past administrations that were openly hostile to regulation of any kind.
Cost-benefit analysis is not the panacea for the regulatory system that Sunstein claims it to be. Rather, overreliance on cost-benefit analysis is one of the major problems right now in our regulatory process and is linked to excessive regulatory delay. The examples are legion.
New passenger rail safety technology that would have prevented the Amtrak train derailment in Pennsylvania last year was derided by Sunstein when he was administrator of OIRA as not passing a cost-benefit test. The head of the railroad industry lobby cited Sunstein’s remarks in urging Congress to delay a requirement that the new technology be in place by the end of 2015, seven years after the railroad safety law was passed. Railroad safety officials, on the other hand, have called the railroad safety technology “one of the top ten most wanted transportation safety improvements of 2016.”
Another casualty of cost-benefit analysis was the so-called “backover rule,” which required car manufacturers to include rear-view cameras in their cars. They are a proven and effective way of preventing fatalities when drivers accidentally back over pedestrians, often young children. By law, the rule was supposed to be finalized in 2011, but wasn’t actually finalized until 2014. Sunstein’s OIRA would not clear the rule because it didn’t pass his beloved cost-benefit test.
While the costs to car manufacturers were well-known, the benefits of saving pedestrians from being backed over, particularly young children, and the anguish of parents and drivers who accidentally did so, were impossible to monetize. In Sunstein’s view, this inability to assign monetary values to the lives of innocent children meant it didn’t pass his cost-benefit test.
OIRA eventually cleared the rule, but only after Sunstein left and only after Public Citizen sued the U.S. Department of Transportation to finalize and issue the rule. Hundreds of lives were needlessly lost while the rule was delayed.” Seehttps://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/268005-why-cass-sunstein-is-wrong-on-regulatory-reform
Who is Cass Sunstein? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Sunstein
Why did the Obama Administration appoint Cass Sunstein to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs? What happens when people who value money over people are elected or appointed to high positions in government? People suffer and die – needlessly.