Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cass Sunstein to be Regulatory Czar

Cass Sunstein will be named the Obama administration's regulatory czar, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Sunstein, a friend of President-elect Barack Obama from their faculty days at the University of Chicago law school, will mark a sharp departure for the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Although obscure, the post wields outsize power. It oversees regulations throughout the government, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” . . .

Mr. Sunstein, a prolific academic with wide-ranging interests, may be best known for advancing a field known as "law and behavioral economics" that seeks to shape law and policy around the way research shows people actually behave. The theory builds on earlier approaches developed at the University of Chicago law school that sought to harmonize regulatory law with free-market economics. Although widely embraced by conservatives, critics said it failed to account for the sometimes less-than-rational aspects of human behavior. . . .

Mr. Obama believes in "doing law in a way that's realistically based on human behavior," Mr. Sunstein said. "He's a University of Chicago Democrat, so he's very attuned to the virtue of free markets and the risks of free-market regulation. He's not an old-style Democrat who's excited about regulations" for their own sake.

Mr. Sunstein has a stellar mind and is renowned for his legal scholarship. He is also one of the best thinkers on risk analysis and human behavior.

Cass Sunstein should send a healthy message that there will not be a wholesale housecleaning of Bush administration policies but, rather, new regulations or changed regulations will be based on reason and thoughtful decision.

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