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Sunstein to Exit Job as White House Regulatory Czar, Return to Harvard Law School


After three years as so-called regulatory czar, Cass R. Sunstein will be leaving his powerful White House post at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to return to Harvard Law School, where he taught prior to joining the Obama administration.

A friend of the president’s from the days when both taught at the University of Chicago Law School, the 57-year-old Sunstein had sought out the opportunity to apply a cost-benefit analysis to regulations of all kinds and has been recognized, a bit grudgingly, by some conservatives for taking a realistic view of the burden that expensive regulatory requirements can place on business, according to the New York Times (reg. req.).

However, critics said he wasn’t tough enough about imposing needed oversight:

“Sunstein’s departure is an opportunity for the administration to reset its regulatory policy and embrace public health and safety protections that have long been stalled in the White House,” Rena Steinzor told the Boston Globe. A law professor at the University of Maryland, she is president of the Center for Progressive Reform.

“In the final analysis,” Steinzor contends, “Sunstein has continued the Bush administration’s tradition of using the office to block needed health and safety protections disliked by big business and political contributors,”

White House officials said Sunstein’s efforts to streamline and eliminate cumbersome and outdated regulations have saved taxpayers some $10 billion, not to mention the time required for compliance, reports the Washington Post.

“Cass has shown that it is possible to support economic growth without sacrificing health, safety, and the environment,” said President Barack Obama in a written statement.

Sunstein will be back at Harvard by the end of the month, where, in addition to returning to his former job as a law professor, he will head a new program at the university on behavioral economics and public policy.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Law Prof, Nominated for Regulatory Czar, Advocated ‘Senior Death Discount’”

ABAJournal.com: “‘Lawyers in Love’ Could Be White House Theme Song”

Harvard Crimson: “Sunstein To Return to HLS from D.C.”

Blog Briefing Room (The HIll): “Regulatory czar leaving White House to return to Harvard Law School”

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