In the raging debate over the federal government’s rule-making system, both sides have it wrong, President Obama’s former regulatory czar contends.
Cass Sunstein, in an op-ed published by Bloomberg, argues that dueling narratives offered by conservatives and liberals in Washington miss the mark.
The little known office serves as gatekeeper for some of the most substantive federal rules drafted at agencies across government.
Congressional Republicans, backed by business groups and conservative think tanks, have waged an all-out assault on the administration’s regulatory policies, contending that an influx of new rules is heaping new expenses on the private sector.
They’ve pushed aggressively for rules requiring agencies to more carefully consider the costs.
Democrats, along with public interest and progressive groups, counter that it is the benefits of health and safety protections that should be better reflected in rule-making decisions.
The groups have accused the White House of dragging its feet on key health and safety protections.
Sunstein says neither argument is supported, and points to research showing that agencies overestimate the costs of regulations about as often as the underestimate them (though the same research shows agency projections are only accurate about a quarter of the time).
“There is no basis for the business community’s claim that agencies systematically inflate benefits and low-ball costs,” Sunstein writes. “Nor is there reason to accept the progressive claim that agencies typically exaggerate costs and underestimate benefits.”