Saturday, April 06, 2013

Either with us, OIRA against us

This is the scariest thing I've read in months. I had no idea that buried in the subterranean depths through which our federal legislation flows there exists the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (known as “OIRA”) which effectively renders all our regulatory agencies as mere figureheads. All regulations, including "rules on worker health, environmental protection, food safety, health care, consumer protection, and more" must pass through OIRA before they're allowed to go into effect. Or not.
In his revealing book, Sunstein tells us why: It is because he, Sunstein, had the authority to “say no to members of the president’s Cabinet”; to deposit “highly touted rules, beloved by regulators, onto the shit list“; to ensure that some rules “never saw the light of day”; to impose cost-benefit analysis “wherever the law allowed”; and to “transform cost-benefit analysis from an analytical tool into a “rule of decision,” meaning that “[a]gencies could not go forward” if their rules flunked OIRA’s cost-benefit test.
Cost-benefit analysis. This is what they mean when they say we need to run government like a business. Numbers on a spreadsheet weighing how many people can die of avoidable hazards without unduly diminishing the profits of Big Business interests.

Worse yet, OIRA derives its power by executive order of the President under some rather dicey premises. Said president first being Clinton, and now Obama. There's no transparency in the process. There's no accountability. No one person is accountable because everyone is responsible. This strikes me as a serious problem.

Sadly, it's unlikely to get the kind of wide play which could generate the level of internet outrage that would force it into BigTV media because, won't drive traffic. To paraphrase a popular meme among the cool kids -- too long, won't read.

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