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Where's Cass?

Do a search at WhiteHouse.gov for the term "Cass" and you get posts about Cass County, North Dakota, declared a disaster area this week -- stay dry, Fargo! -- and Lewis Cass, a general and expansionist, in a biography of Zachary Taylor.

But no Cass Sunstein, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, whom President Obama was supposed to nominate to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the OMB. No reference to him in The Congressional Record either.

We're not the first to notice Sunstein's absence. On March 10th, the Federal Times blog, Fedline, carried a post, "Where's Cass?"

As author of "Laws of Fear -- Beyond the Precautionary Principle," Sunstein can be seen as if not a skeptic, at least a critical thinker about regulations and regulatory overreach. He believes in cost-benefit analysis. Hence, nanny staters like the Center for Progressive Reform have gone after him.

Sunstein's presence at OIRA would seem especially critical given the President's plan to issue a new executive order on federal regulatory review. OMB issued a request for comments on the plan on February 26 (Federal Register notice), and while the plan has escaped most media attention, its development is being watched closely by industry, "consumer" groups and others involved in the regulatory world.

In a March 17 report by Bloomberg regulatory reporter Cindy Skrzycki, OMB spokesman Tom Gavin said Sunstein "is providing insight on key issues" to OMB Director Orszag. (He could start with advising on OIRA's website content. What a mess, full of outdated, Bush Administration materials.)

Top agency officials in waiting often go on the public payroll as "consultants" pending their nominations and Senate confirmation. But that usually happens only after they're nominated. So we ask: Where's Cass?

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.