I see that Cass Sunstein is under attack as President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, because he–gasp!–favors the use of cost-benefit analysis in making regulatory determinations. The attacks come from the Left, which seems to be upset that Sunstein’s “let’s take a moment and think about this” attitude towards regulation might slow down the regulatory juggernaut.
It is precisely things like this that makes it difficult for me to take the so-called “reality-based community” seriously. Team Reality’s bread and butter during the Bush years was to decry and denounce the degree to which reason, science and general cognition supposedly took a back seat to ideology during the Bush Administration, while swearing up and down that things would be oh-so-different if it were in charge. Well, now it is, and we see the results; President Obama nominates a non-knee jerk regulator to head up OIRA and the reaction amongst the members of the self-styled RBC is fits of apoplexy.
Perhaps the Administration will stand firm on the Sunstein nomination. One expects that they will; the apoplexy of the zealous regulators notwithstanding, it appears that Sunstein will have no problem being confirmed. But what of future nominations? It’s easy to imagine that the Obama Administration might have to cater to zealous regulator sensibilities at some point by selecting a nominee who throws out cost-benefit analysis in favor of a mindset geared towards excessive regulations that is meant to satisfy the Democratic base on ideological grounds. Too many Sunsteins might stir the base to anger, after all.
Don’t believe the above? Don’t think that the Obama Administration may allow politics to blatantly and shamefully trump rational thought and reasoned policy discourse? Then explain how it is that John Holdren is the President’s Science Adviser.