Even Cass Sunstein Says GOP’s Proposed Regulatory Moratorium Would Be “Like a Nuclear Bomb” House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein has been working to change the Obama Administration’s stance on various regulations.  The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Sunstein teamed up with Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley to squash the long-delayed and much-needed ozone standard.

So if Sunstein thinks a regulatory moratorium would be catastrophic, that’s saying something.  Republicans, of course, have stepped up their attacks on regulations to unprecedented levels. Congressional Republicans and presidential hopefuls have made repeated calls for a moratorium on all regulations, and threaten to close the EPA on a daily basis.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the White House was also considering a full moratorium on EPA regulations. But PoliticoPro reported today that Cass Sunstein, head of the Administration’s office of regulatory affairs, is denying those reports.

For one thing, “A moratorium would not be a scalpel or a machete, it would be more like a nuclear bomb, in the sense that it would prevent regulations that, let’s say, cost very little, and have very significant economic or public health benefits,” he said.

A moratorium would also block the executive branch from its duty to carry out laws passed by Congress, he added. “A moratorium would violate the requirement of laws to be faithfully executed, so it would have to be a highly qualified moratorium.” A time out on rules would also prevent some deregulatory efforts because they are considered regulatory actions, Sunstein said.

It must be said, however, that Sunstein’s own efforts have undermined the ability of  the president to make the case for regulations.  National Journal recently conducted a poll of energy industry insiders, who expressed concern that the smog decision will open up the door to more delays of Environmental Protection Agency standards:

Over half of Insiders responding said that Obama is likely to delay imposition of other new environmental regulations, with 15 percent calling the prospect “very likely” and 39 percent deeming it “somewhat likely.” “The only decision metric that matters for the next 14 months is, ‘Will this help us get reelected?’ ” said one Insider. “If a regulatory decision is a liability, we should fully expect the administration to delay until Nov. 7” of 2012—the day after the presidential election.

When Obama announced he would delay the ozone rule until 2013, he talked about such rules creating uncertainty in the market. (As if pushing for a standard so aggressively and then pulling back at the last minute provides certainty.) So even though White House officials are denying they’ll put a halt on other environmental regulations, the President has severely weakened his ability to talk proactively about the economic benefits of EPA rules that could create more than 250,000 jobs through installation of scrubber technologies and build-out of new, cleaner energy facilities. Experts polled by National Journal said the Administration had effectively killed its own messaging efforts:

“It is disturbing that he used the ‘regulatory uncertainty’ point when backing off the ozone rules, and that might be a sign that he’s willing to back off other rules as well,” another Insider said. On Sept. 2, when Obama announced the decision to delay tighter ground-level ozone standards for at least two years, he cited the “importance of reducing regulatory burdens.” In contrast, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and EPA air chief Gina McCarthy have repeatedly told Congress that regulations actually could help a struggling economy, citing studies that say environmental spending creates jobs. One Insider said that Obama “can no longer claim the regulations help the economy,” now that he has identified regulatory burdens as a potential issue for employers.

After speculation that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson would leave the agency after having the smog rule tabled, she now says “I’m staying.” But her ability to sell these regulations as a job creator may have gotten harder.

4 Responses to Even Cass Sunstein Says GOP’s Proposed Regulatory Moratorium Would Be “Like a Nuclear Bomb”

  1. ZJ 77 says:

    The republican’s insane, unthinkable goal can be likened to the explosion of a nuclear bomb!?

    Well, experience dictates then that the Obama admin’s response will be to compromise in good faith with their loyal opposition, and agree to a more reasonable, lower yield *atomic bomb* level of regulation elimination. I’m thinking an offering of 500 kilotons should persuade the republicans to ease up on their “job killing regulation” rhetoric for at least 3 months.

  2. Mike says:

    You might fnd this of interest:

    By Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy/Tribune news

    September 8, 2011
    Politicians and business groups often blame excessive regulation and fear of higher taxes for tepid hiring in the economy. However, little evidence of that emerged in a random sample of small-business owners across the nation.,0,3038724.story

  3. Tony says:

    The Exiled did a pretty good review of Cass Sunstein’s career. He’s an absolutely unfortunate human being who’s creepy no matter what side of the aisle you sit on.

  4. Sasparilla says:

    How likely is it that the final powerplant CO2 emissions reduction regulations will be implemented by the EPA in 2012 now?

    Will the administration see implementation in 2012 as giving their GOP enemies an easy bat they can hit the administration with in advertising in the campaign? Of course they will.

    If the (insert colorful descriptive adjective here) administration at the white house had pushed the CO2 emissions regulations through a year or two earlier – the effects could have already been in place prior to the 2012 election and little the GOP could do about it.

    Now it seems likely we’ll see this last chance at getting rid of a bunch of old coal powerplants to get punted for years, if ever, (won’t make sense to implement until the economy is rosy if you delay it to not effect the economy), of course it’ll be dead with a GOP president for sure.

    I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the administration, probably, fumbling away the only CO2 emission reduction option we have left…they’ve been so consistent.