Midnight Regulations, Shmidnight Shmegulations

by James Goodwin | February 12, 2016

In case you didn’t get the memo:  President Obama is entering the last year of his final term in office, so now we’re all supposed to be panicking over a dreaded phenomenon known as “midnight regulations.”  According to legend, midnight rulemaking takes place when outgoing administrations rush out a bunch of regulations during their last few days in order to burnish their legacy or make concrete several of their policy priorities in ways that would be difficult for a successor—presumably from a different party—to undo.  The legend further holds that because the rules are “rushed,” they are somehow of inferior quality.

Over the last few days, several antiregulatory commentators have issued dire warnings about midnight regulations (see here and here), and even the House Science Committee went to the trouble of holding a hearing on the subject just the other day. 

Scared yet?  Well, you shouldn’t be.

While “midnight regulations” might make for a good political talking point, there simply is no reason to believe that a rule released at the end of an administration is worse than those that are released at any other point.  In fact, the administration could have been working on such rules for as long as seven years, which, according to the logic of the ...

Some Observations from the Howard Shelanski Confirmation Hearing

by James Goodwin | June 13, 2013
Yesterday's confirmation hearing for Dr. Howard Shelanski—President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as the next “Regulatory Czar,” or Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—may have been the “most important hearing in Washington this week,” but it did not produce much in the way of bombshells or drama.  Rather, it was a relatively staid affair, which at times had a distinct “going through the motions” vibe. On the positive side, the hearing generated some good ...

What We Will Be Listening for at the Howard Shelanski Confirmation Hearing

by Sidney Shapiro | June 11, 2013
The confirmation hearing for Howard Shelanski, President Obama’s pick to serve as the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is set to take place Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.  If confirmed, Shelanski would become the Administration’s new “Regulatory Czar,” a description that indicates the significant influence OIRA’s administrator has concerning what agency rules look like and, indeed, whether those rules are issued at all. Shelanski’s confirmation hearing comes at ...

What the White House Taketh Away, It Can Also Giveth: An Agenda for 'Regulatory Czar' Howard Shelanski's First 30 Days

by Rena Steinzor | May 23, 2013
As the scandal du jour over the pure lug-headedness of some IRS staffers reminds us, any screw-up, anywhere in the government, will make its way to the White House press briefing room in about a nanosecond of Internet real time. Suspicion is deeply bred into the press corps, and appropriately so. For that reason, the 2,000 or so people who directly serve on the President's White House staff, but who remain faceless to the rest of us, insist on maintaining control over ...

OIRA Nominee's Disappearing Affiliation with Industry Think Tank

by Rena Steinzor | April 30, 2013
See the UPDATE at the bottom of the page. Last Thursday, President Obama named Howard Shelanski as his new nominee for Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). As of that evening, Shelanski was listed on the website of the industry-funded, fiercely anti-regulatory Mercatus Center as an "expert" in its Technology Policy Program. OIRA has long operated as a regulatory chokepoint, stalling and weakening health and environmental safeguards at the behest of industry groups, and as I've written, ...

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