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February 22, 2022

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis

Report

Anti-MonopolyDepartment of JusticeGovernment Capacity

Making The Antitrust Division Competitive: A Look At Capacity As Biden Revitalizes Enforcement

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division (ATR) is, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the primary regulator of antitrust law and is responsible for ensuring markets’ competitiveness. In that capacity, it investigates corporate consolidation and allegations of collusion and anticompetitive practices that undermine the free market. ATR is also responsible for supervising mergers and acquisitions to ensure that companies cannot establish monopolies. While both ATR and the FTC share this objective, the two divide jurisdiction based on industry. ATR also investigates and prosecutes criminal antitrust violations.

February 17, 2022

Press Release

ClimateFinancial Regulation

New Report Examines Treasury Research Division’s Destruction and Its Consequences for Climate Regulation

Today the Revolving Door Project released a report on the Office of Financial Research’s (OFR) capacity to proactively investigate and inform climate-aware regulation across the federal financial regulatory landscape. This is the fourth installment of our Climate Finance Capacity project, which examines the current state of financial regulation through the lens of the climate crisis. Our prior installments have looked at the role and capacity of the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in crafting a more sustainable financial future. 

February 17, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

ClimateFinancial Regulation

Dino Falaschetti and the Decimation of the OFR

The Office of Financial Research (OFR) was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. Charged with providing data, analysis, and research regarding systemic financial risks to the members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), OFR is an integral part of the federal infrastructure for safeguarding financial stability. OFR, while not itself a regulatory body, investigates systemic risks, standardizes the data used across government, and can offer financial regulators a more robust empirical base from which to devise regulations. OFR was designed to address the proven inability of financial regulators in the lead up to the Great Recession to understand dangers before threats turned into devastation.

February 11, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Letter

EducationEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

Coalition Letter to Education Secretary Cardona: Withdraw All Oppositions to Student Debt Discharge in Bankruptcy Court

Dear Secretary Cardona:

We are writing today to thank the Department of Education for committing to reform its practices on opposing and appealing student loan discharges in bankruptcy court. Our organizations call on the Department to immediately withdraw oppositions to individuals seeking undue hardship discharges in bankruptcy proceedings while these reforms are being implemented.

February 11, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Press Release

EducationEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

Advocacy Organizations Ask Education Department to Stop Opposing Student Debtors in Bankruptcy Court

A coalition of 17 advocacy organizations called on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to immediately withdraw his department’s opposition to student borrowers seeking to discharge their debt in bankruptcy court while the Department reviews its bankruptcy policies in a letter on Thursday. The letter can be read here. 

February 11, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Department of JusticeExecutive Branch

Abandon Blue Slips: An Examination of the U.S. Attorneys Office

President Biden campaigned on ambitious reforms to the criminal legal system. Among these promises were key proposals like expanding the use of the President’s clemency powers, reorienting federal prosecutorial priorities, and decentering carcerality in the Federal system. His administration has also promised the public a new focus on white collar and corporate crime as part of a fundamental shift towards systemic accountability instead of individual punishment. Yet, more than a year into Biden’s presidency, many of these promises remain unfulfilled. His Department of Justice (DOJ) – a key tool in the fight for meaningful legal reforms – remains pockmarked by Trump-era officials and lacks the permanent progressive leadership integral to successful reform efforts. U.S. Attorneys’ offices, in particular, remain limited by the standing lack of nominations, confirmations, and stable leadership that persists over a year after President Biden’s inauguration.

February 07, 2022

Fatou Ndiaye

Blog Post

ClimateGovernment Capacity

The Department of Energy Needs More Capacity To Help Prevent A Dim Future

Addressing the climate crisis on a federal level requires, at minimum, that the agencies and departments of the federal government be fully staffed and equipped to implement and enforce regulations. In the Revolving Door Project’s Climate Capacity Crisis Report, we initially found that the Department of Energy (DOE) had relatively higher staffing levels compared to other agencies, though certainly not enough to fulfill its mandate. As of June 2021, Biden’s DOE had hired 79 more STEM employees than were employed by the department in September 2016, whereas the Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, National Park Service, United States Geological Survey, and the Environmental Protection Agency all lost STEM employees within that same time period. Despite the DOE’s comparably impressive staffing levels, a recent Washington Post article revealed that the department was struggling to stay on top of mounting work, causing unnecessary problems in their fight against the climate crisis.

February 01, 2022

Letter

Anti-MonopolyEthics in GovernmentTech

Coalition Calls On Secretary Raimondo to Release Calendars

We write to express our concern about your refusal to release your calendars and its implications for public trust in your department and this administration. As a public servant, the American people have a right to know who you meet with, when you meet with them, and what you discuss. In the absence of proactive disclosure, and with other routes to obtaining this information subject to extensive delays, the public is being left in the dark about who may be influencing the country’s trade and economic policy, and how. This is all the more alarming in light of your recent comments that favored Big Tech and contradicted Biden administration policy. We ask that you immediately address this grave threat to public trust by releasing your calendars, retroactively and at regular intervals moving forward. 

January 31, 2022 | The American Prospect

Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive Branch

Garland Has Yet to De-Trumpify His Office of Legal Counsel

One former employee of the Office of Legal Counsel, upon quitting her job during the Trump presidency, described the OLC’s work to The Washington Post succinctly: “using the law to legitimize lies.” Three years later, and a year after Trump left office, most of those legitimized lies remain intact.

January 28, 2022

Fatou Ndiaye

Blog Post

Financial RegulationGovernment CapacityHousing

Capacity Shortfalls At The FHFA

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is an independent federal agency established by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) following the 2008-2010 subprime mortgage crisis. Upon its creation, the FHFA replaced the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), and the GSE mission office at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The FHFA is responsible for ensuring regulated entities “fulfill their mission by operating in a safe and sound manner to serve as a reliable source of liquidity and funding for the housing finance market throughout the economic cycle.” The agency oversees the supervision, regulation, and housing mission oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which includes the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) and the Office of Finance. 

January 27, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Government CapacityHousing

Sabotaged HUD Must Rebuild to Fix The Housing Crisis

As the pandemic exacerbates the nation’s ongoing housing crisis, President Biden has promised swift and immediate action. Effectively deploying the federal government’s powers to address this crisis, however, will require more than just good policy and motivated leadership. Past administrations eroded the federal government’s capacity to carry out effective policy to help tenants and homeowners. This administration will need to form new infrastructure, with an outsized focus on staffing reforms, in order to both restore capacity and implement new housing policies that will enable Americans to readily access safe and affordable housing.