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Press Release | January 29, 2021

Progressives Vehemently Object To Cass Sunstein’s Plans To Return To Government

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Progressives Vehemently Object To Cass Sunstein’s Plans To Return To Government


Date: January 29, 2021

Contact: Miranda Litwak, litwak@therevolvingdoorproject.org

The American Prospect reported today that Cass Sunstein, the former Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is telling colleagues he is in line for a job in the Biden Administration. Environmental, labor, consumer advocacy, and progressive economic groups are united in their disdain toward Sunstein for his attacks on common-sense regulation throughout his time in the Obama Administration. 

Instead of promoting regulations that could help fight climate change and racial inequity or prevent public health crises and dangerous working conditions, Sunstein allowed industry lobbyists free access to OIRA officials and stopped efforts by good-government groups to make OIRA’s regulatory review process more transparent. Through the use of “cost-benefit analysis,” an economic framework which typically prioritizes corporate bottom lines over unquantifiable social necessities — such as environmental protection, racial justice, and worker’s rights — Sunstein helped hollow out the regulatory state.

During his tenure, Sunstein: 

  • blocked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation restricting the dumping of hazardous waste; 
  • held up an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation to protect workers from silica dust, which would have saved nearly 700 lives per year;
  • held up an EPA regulation that would require manufacturers to disclose hazardous chemicals used in their products;
  • held up a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) rule requiring automakers to install rear-view mirror cameras in cars, which led to preventable deaths in automobile accidents. 

While Sunstein bragged about how many regulations he blocked, these actions quite literally led to loss of lives

“The Obama administration’s disappointing legacy on protections for workers, families, and the environment is a testament to the disastrous influence that Cass Sunstein had as OIRA administrator,” said Center for Progressive Reform Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin. “If President Biden is going to make good on his early promises to address racial injustice, economic inequality, climate change, and the COVID pandemic, as the public expects and deserves, he cannot afford to make the same mistake by giving Sunstein a prominent position in his administration.”

“Sunstein’s record of blocking life-saving regulations and his support for Trump’s executive orders attacking regulations are utterly incompatible with the Biden Administration’s commitments,” said Revolving Door Project Executive Director Jeff Hauser. “Biden has promised to be the most pro-labor president in history and to take aggressive action to tackle climate change. In order to keep these promises, he must appoint individuals who committed to reining in corporate misconduct, not those who take implausible corporate sob stories about the costs of regulations seriously.”  


About Revolving Door Project

The Revolving Door Project (RDP), a project of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement. For more information, visit: http://therevolvingdoorproject.org/.

PHOTO: Harvard Law Record

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