CPR Archive for Rena Steinzor

Wanted: A Wise Latina

by Rena Steinzor | July 23, 2009

This post is co-written by CPR President Rena Steinzor and Policy Analyst Matt Shudtz.

Just as the traditional media finished a breathless cycle of reporting on how prospective Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had renounced her claim that a “wise Latina” would make different decisions than a white man, an article in USA Today reminded us of the need for many more wise Latinas in the corridors of power in Washington. According to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace deaths of Hispanics have increased by 76 percent since 1992, even though total fatalities in all jobs nationwide dropped by almost 10 percent.

What explains these tragic figures? Admittedly, there are simply more Hispanic workers in the United States today.

And the jobs involved are the meanest and the dirtiest. In 2003, 42 percent of workers in the meat and poultry industry, which includes dangerous meatpacking jobs, were Hispanic. These jobs also attract undocumented immigrants with few other options for employment. Twenty-six percent of workers in the meat and poultry industry were foreign-born noncitizens in 2003. BLS data show that other dangerous industries such as construction, transportation and warehousing, natural resources and mining, and agriculture are where the most Hispanic workers are dying on the job. And, while companies are required to provide employees with safety training, they often fail to make adequate efforts to deal with language barriers. OSHA has some materials available ...

Sunstein Watch: The Nominee Breaks Silence to Placate Cattle Ranchers; He Isn’t Sonia Sotomayor

by Rena Steinzor | July 14, 2009
Bowing to right-wing political pressure, Cass Sunstein, nominee for “regulatory czar” in the Obama Administration, broke months of official silence to plead his case with the cattle ranchers and agribusiness lobby who have engineered a hold on the nomination by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).  Sunstein’s move was all the more troubling because his absence from the public eye has included an across-the-board refusal to meet with or respond to any inquiries from a wide range of progressive groups and mainstream ...

Responsibility Without Accountability: Failed Cleanup in the Chesapeake Bay

by Rena Steinzor | July 02, 2009
The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers 64,000 square miles, measuring 200 miles in length and 35 miles at its widest point. The watershed is one of the most beautiful and economically productive in the world. Tourism, which depends to a large extent on the preservation of pristine environmental conditions, contributes billions of dollars to the economies of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. As Shana Jones recently wrote on CPRBlog, the Bay is plagued by so-called “nutrient loading,” a condition where a ...

Sunstein Nomination Approved by Senate Committee

by Rena Steinzor | July 02, 2009
As expected, Cass Sunstein's nomination for Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was approved Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) alone voted against confirmation (we’re guessing his vote was not motivated by concerns over Sunstein’s past support for cost-benefit analysis and strengthening the institution of centralized regulatory review.) Sunstein is expected to be approved by the full Senate soon. What now? In his confirmation hearing, Sunstein pledged ...

Big Trouble on Climate Change: President Obama and the Loss of Momentum

by Rena Steinzor | June 12, 2009
This past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine had a terrific piece by Matt Bai on the Obama White House and how it is “taking” Capitol Hill, one battle at a time. After extolling the team of congressional insiders Obama has assembled, and emphasizing the importance of their attentiveness to key players on the issue du jour -- health care reform -- Bai predicts that Obama will be compelled to wade up to his neck in the messy details of the ...

Cass Sunstein Hits the Senate and Climate Change Hits the Media Fan

by Rena Steinzor | May 13, 2009
Cass Sunstein had his confirmation hearing Tuesday; it was well-attended and anti-climactic. President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) testified for about an hour, and Senate approval of the nomination seems assured. Ironically, in a perfect example of timing being everything, at about the same hour that Sunstein took his seat in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, a story hit the media ...

Sunstein at the Helm

by Rena Steinzor | May 13, 2009
With his attractive family and a phalanx of top aides in tow, Professor Cass Sunstein had a cordial, 45-minute hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee yesterday. He was introduced by former student and current Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) who praised Sunstein as a teacher, mentor, and eclectic thinker, all qualities for which he is rightly known. Ironically, however, the remainder of the hearing could be summarized as efforts by the three Senators in attendance— Chairman Joseph ...

What I Will be Listening for at the Cass Sunstein Confirmation Hearing

by Rena Steinzor | May 06, 2009
Cass Sunstein, President Obama's controversial nominee for Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), will go before the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for his confirmation hearing on Tuesday (May 12). The “Regulatory Czar,” as this position is known, wields enormous influence over the substance of federal regulations affecting matters as diverse as public health and safety, the environment, and education. Professor Sunstein's nomination has attracted attention from the public interest community, largely focused on ...

The First 100 Days: On the Environment, a President to be Proud of; An Agenda Just Beyond Reach

by Rena Steinzor | April 28, 2009
Inside the Washington Beltway, we are awash in stories about President Obama’s first 100 days. Some are comparative—how is Obama doing in relationship to Franklin Roosevelt at the same point in his first term? Some are pure spin—“[we’re competent and we love each other!]" opines Rahm Emanuel, the obviously biased Obama chief of staff. And some are substantive—has he kept his campaign promises and, if not, how many more miles does he have to go before he sleeps? On the ...

Reacting to Cass Sunstein's Nomination

by Rena Steinzor | April 20, 2009
According to media accounts, President Obama today nominated Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein to be the director of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs -- the so-called "regulatory czar."  CPR President Rena Steinzor reacts to the news: I welcome Cass Sunstein’s nomination to be the Obama Administration’s regulatory czar. His past support for cost-benefit analysis as a method of regulatory impact analysis – even as practiced by the Bush Administration – raises a host of questions about the direction ...

The People's Agents: Rewarding Polluters with a Plaque on the Wall

by Rena Steinzor | April 14, 2009
Say you live in an urban neighborhood where crime is worrisome but not overwhelming. The police are chronically understaffed, with no money to walk the beat, and instead depend on what we might call a “deterrence-based enforcement system” – making high-profile arrests, prosecuting the worst violators, and relying on the resulting publicity to frighten others from taking up a life of crime. Now suppose a group of trade associations representing local “businesses,” that is to say drug dealers and thieves, ...

Still Your Grandma's Cost-Benefit Analysis: Well-meaning Effort by Resources for the Future Falls Short of the Mark

by Rena Steinzor | March 31, 2009
Two years ago, a pair of well-meaning economists, Richard Morgenstern and Winston Harrington, who work at the moderate think tank Resources for the Future (RFF) got a large grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation to convene a group of well-credentialed academics to consider how to improve “cost-benefit analysis” (CBA). Unfortunately, their long-awaited report, released at a briefing today is a mouse that tries to roar, but doesn’t quite. The reforms proposed in the final chapter – and that are never ...

The People's Agents: Sulfur in the Home, Brought to You by Drywall from China

by Rena Steinzor | March 27, 2009
Dangerous consumer products just can't seem to stay out of the news lately. The newest revelations are on drywall imported from China. Time reports the horrifying story of a 67-year-old dance teacher named Danie Beck whose two-story townhouse was lined with Chinese drywall. Beck smelled horrific odors shortly after moving in, and then began experiencing dizzy spells, insomnia, and sore joints. Eventually, she discovered the source of her misery: the drywall had somehow ended up with high levels of sulfur ...

The People's Agents: When the Fox Guards the Hen House...and Is Paid by Perdue

by Rena Steinzor | March 20, 2009
The financial cataclysm gripping the country is often (and rightly) blamed on a lax system of public and private oversight of financial institutions. On the private side, investors trusted huge auditing companies like Arthur Anderson to rate multinational corporations for fiscal soundness. Meanwhile, Arthur Anderson also took handsome fees from the same corporations to conduct those audits.  Such self-dealing makes no sense to most Americans.  No one lets us administer our own driving tests, much less check our own tax ...

Delivering Health, Safety, and a Clean Environment: CPR Submits Comments for New Executive Order on Regulatory Review

by Rena Steinzor | March 17, 2009
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) invited public comments on the design of its new Executive Order on regulatory review, and CPR has now submitted our recommendations. We urged the Obama Administration to make fundamental changes in how OMB and prospective “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein operate. We're hopeful that the new Administration will convert OMB from a regulatory Siberia into the guarantor of dramatically improved government protection of public health, safety, and the environment. If we have learned anything ...

The People's Agents: Rescuing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

by Rena Steinzor | March 06, 2009
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the most maligned and least respected federal agency with responsibility for protecting people’s lives. Now that Hilda Solis has been confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Labor, we can only hope that a new OSHA administrator with a strong stomach, an iron will, and a “yes we can” attitude will be chosen to take over this troubled agency.   Workplace injuries and illnesses numbered 4.1 million in private sector workplaces for ...

OMB Seeks Public Input on New Executive Order on Regulatory Review

by Rena Steinzor | February 27, 2009
Late last week, I sent a letter to Peter Orszag, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget that, among other things, called on OMB to allow for public participation in the design of its new Executive Order governing federal regulatory review. I’m happy to see that OMB has decided to do just that, with its announcement in Thursday’s Federal Register that it would “invite public comments on how to improve the process and principles governing regulation.”   ...

Cass Sunstein's 'Yes, We Can'

by Rena Steinzor | February 10, 2009
Normal 0 We’ve written a great deal about Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor who is expected to get the nod to be the “regulatory czar” for the Obama Administration.   In a nutshell, our concern is that Sunstein will stifle the efforts of health, safety, and environmental protection agencies to struggle to their feet after eight long years of evisceration by the Bush Administration’s regulatory czars, John Graham, and his protégé, Susan Dudley.   But, we got to thinking, just ...

Also from Rena Steinzor

Rena Steinzor is a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and a past president of the Center for Progressive Reform. She is the author of Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction.

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