Total Pageviews

Friday, August 3, 2012

Top Regulatory Adviser to Depart White House


Cass Sunstein, President Obama's often provocative regulatory czar, is leaving the White House after more than three years and returning to Harvard Law School.

Mr. Sunstein, a controversial figure in the perennial battles between left and right over the role of government in American society, led an administration review intended to get rid of antiquated or counterproductive rules as part of a cost-benefit analysis.

Mr. Obama credited Mr. Sunstein with putting in place a regulatory system that still protected Americans while eliminating “tens of millions of hours of paperwork burdens” for businesses and citizens.

“Cass has shown that it is possible to support economic growth without sacrificing health, safety and the environment,” the president said in a written statement issued Friday.

During his tenure, Mr. Sunstein often argued that the old paradigm over regulation w as stale and irrelevant. “My view is that the Republican claim that ‘job-killing regulation' is a redundancy is as ridiculous as the left-wing view that ‘job-killing regulation' is an oxymoron,” he told The New York Times last year. “Both are silly political claims that have no place in a serious discussion.”

Mr. Sunstein, a prolific author who met Mr. Obama at the University of Chicago, is a proponent of both cost-benefit analysis and behavioral economics, which seeks to find low-cost incentives for individuals and businesses to act both in their own interests and those of the broader economy. When Mr. Obama won the presidency, he offered Mr. Sunstein a range of possible jobs but Mr. Sunstein chose the little known Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs because he thought it would be the best place to test his academic theories.

At the time, Republicans saw what they considered a liberal Harvard professor and Obam a pal and were deeply skeptical. But his actions in office were often met with hostility by environmental activists, who argued that he placed too much emphasis on the cost of environmental regulations rather than their health benefits. Mr. Sunstein also took a skeptical view of some workplace safety rules as the administration tried to deflect criticism from business leaders and Republican officials who accused them of putting undue burdens and costs on employers.

Mr. Sunstein's wife, Samantha Power, also works at the White House as a senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, a position she used to advocate for better responses to genocide around the world. Ms. Power recently had a baby and said Friday that she still plans to return to the White House after maternity leave.