Donald Trump

Reformer Neomi Rao Sails Through Senate Confirmation to Become the Government's Top Regulatory Analyst

Off the media radar, the Trump administration continues serious work on deregulation, with professionals even Democrats praise

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If you squint your eyes enough, you can see Neomi Rao talking there with our own Damon Root! ||| Reason
Reason

Today the Senate confirmed Neomi Rao as administrator of the Office for Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is charged with vetting the federal government's regulatory activities for cost-benefit sanity and recognizable legislative intent. Rao, founder of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, has a long track record of criticizing the accrual of power and latitude at the executive branch's regulatory agencies (see Christian Britschgi's detailed report from earlier this month). The vote was 59-36.

Six Democrats joined the entire Republican caucus and independent Angus King of Maine in voting yes. Key moderate Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) likely sealed the deal with her enthusiastic endorsement Monday: "I look forward to finding opportunities to join with the Trump Administration to reduce the regulatory burden on Missouri small businesses," McCaskill said in a statement. "I'm hopeful about working with Ms. Rao to eliminate unnecessary regulations while protecting Missourians' health and safety." Rao had sailed through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week by a vote of 11-4, including affirmatives from Democrats McCaskill, Tom Carper (Del.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.). Heitkamp had said during Rao's confirmation hearings, "we are very excited about the expertise you bring." Only staunch regulatory activists seemed to sound the alarm against Rao, and they didn't have much notable influence.

And when you smirk for the camera ||| Reason
Reason

Hiring a knowledgeable regulatory reformer in this position is a big deal. As mentioned in this post of mine a month ago, when I was interviewing deregulatory specialists for my recent cover story on the possibilities of Donald Trump's presidency, the number-one future indicator they told me to look out for was whether Trump would tab someone good for OIRA. How is Rao seen in that universe? Here's Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), from earlier today:

CEI applauds the confirmation of Neomi Rao as the next Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Administrator Rao brings years of respected scholarship on the regulatory process and a principled perspective to one of the most important jobs in Washington. She combines strong scholarly credentials with success as a policy entrepreneur….Now is the time to bring the regulatory state to heel, back to reason, and under the law. Neomi Rao is the right woman for the job.

And Rao—or at least a paragraph in Rao's opening statement during her confirmation hearings—has drawn praise from one of her more respected Democratic predecessors at the job, Cass R. Sunstein, who directed OIRA from 2009-2012. Was Sunstein just working the refs a bit (Rao's sentiments "are in real tension with numerous comments from the Trump administration," he asserted), and/or trying to buck up his ex-colleagues who are dreading the new gal? Maybe. But consider this: His very next column, about the Senate's Regulatory Accountability Act (read Eric Boehm on that here), was headlined "A Regulatory Reform Bill That Everyone Should Like: Look! Bipartisanship is alive, and cranking out good ideas." Excerpt:

[C]ongressional Republicans, joined by some Democrats, have been thinking seriously about regulatory reform. They've produced an intelligent, constructive, complex, imperfect bill – the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 – that deserves careful attention. […]

Though progressive groups have raised some legitimate (if overheated) concerns, most of its provisions deserve bipartisan support. […]

The good news is that Portman and Heitkamp have produced a bill that reflects much of the learning of the last three decades, that emphasizes the importance of science and economics, and that could ultimately lead to higher benefits and lower costs. Its flaws need to be corrected – but it has a lot of promise.

Read the whole Sunstein piece for more detail (including criticisms and suggestions).

The Rao/Sunstein overlap reinforces the notion that the most serious policy work being done in the Trump administration is on regulation, where a long-sidelined intellectual tradition is finally being deployed and given latitude by a president in one of the areas he has the most power.

Read a huge pile of Trump-era Reason regulation pieces at the bottom of this link.

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  1. If Trump can keep down on the war, and keep up with deregulation then he will far exceed my original expectations.

  2. charged with vetting the federal government’s regulatory activities for cost-benefit sanity and recognizable legislative intent.

    *** takes deep breath ***

    “Vetting for recognizable legislative intent”? I realize many of these “activities” are the products of unelected bureaucrats, but still, W.T.F?

  3. Next step: total anarchy

    /sarc

  4. Seeing as the bureaucracy runs the country and not the legislative or executive branch, I’m okay with Trump’s idiotic tweets and distractions if this kind of stuff continues behind the scenes. Just get replace Sessions and I would love this presidency.

    1. Yeah, Sessions is too authoritarian for me. I don’t know about racism or anything, but his overall worldview is too Law and Order for me.

      Plus, this might be the closest stuff to policy debate I’ve been seeing. In almost all fields it seems pretty devoid of policy discussion. I think the health care think might be starting to have some detailed discussion, but it still feels like its been mostly accusing other people of being murderers.

      1. He’s not racist. The Democrats are just fucking retarded and decided to ignore all his actual problems and talk about a joke he made about the KKK 40 years ago. I would have voted for him too if I was Rand Paul just to give a big fuck you to the Democrats. His racial bias is not stuck in the 60s, but his drug policy is. That is the problem.

        1. I still can’t give Rand any leeway on that one. His drug policy goes beyond regressive. He could be the single most damaging Trump legacy. The guy is only a few steps removed from Duterte

          1. Sessions legacy will be in putting people in jail, not the law. Attitudes by age clearly show that Drug Wars are coming to an end.

            Drug Warriors are going to lose, and not too far into the future either.

        2. Yeah, I meant it as I’m didn’t want to comment on the racism thing either way. That it is purely his drug policy and his seemingly rather aggressive stance of law and order that I take issue with.

      2. While I’m no fan of Sessions, if the law was not what it is then he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.

        That seems obvious.

        If you want to bitch and moan about drug policy, aim your ire at Congress where it belongs.

        How about we have a conversation about Eric Holder or Lynch and some of the things they did that were blatantly illegal, eh? Sessions is actually an improvement, even if he’s a fucker.

    2. Sessions is the kind of AG you could expect any Republican president to hire, and many Democrats, too.
      I don’t like Sessions either; but Trump is no libertarian.

      1. Agreed. Though I think from now on this part: “and many Democrats, too.” will change. Enough blue states have legalized cannabis, and enough liberals have jumped on the criminal justice reform wagon that an AG Democratic Sessions would be untenable for the Dems. Any future Democratic Administration will be much more restrained by the political realities of their base. Which means the cannabis prohibitionists and “law and order” types will have no where near the same influence with a Democratic President again like they had with Obama. Which is about the only positive thing I can say about the Dems these days.

        1. I’m not convinced. Obama hired Holder, who is not just a liberal hack, he’s also pretty big on law and order. If Hillary had won, I could see her nominating Sessions as the traditional sop to the opposition ( and maybe thinking the Dems could pick up Session’s Senate seat).
          The Dems pretend to be the “resistance”, but the fact is that they are just as dependent on big government as the Republicans, and, in order to have big government you need a docile population. I offer Preet as one example.

          1. With the racial stuff they accused him of (back in the 80s)? No way in hell. And the traditional sop the Dems throw to the GOP is usually Sec. of Defense (see Gates and Hagel). No way Hillary was going to pick a Pro-life, anti-illegal immigration, anti-gay rights Republican Senator of Alabama. If she had picked a Republican for AG it would’ve been a moderate (see Brian Sandoval, Susan Collins) from a state Dems could actually win. The Dems winning in Alabama? Lmao, yeah no.

            As for Obama and Holder. We’re talking about different eras here. Obama and Holder came in at a time when California voted to ban gay marriage with Prop 8 and the Dems still had sitting senators in Arkansas and Louisana. Supporting Medical Cannabis was still seen as being outside the mainstream. And despite Holder’s status as a “law and order” liberal, even Reason Magazine commended him for the very minor “reforms” he enacted as AG.

            We’re now in the era we’re a self-described Socialist from Vermont posted a credible challenge to the Clintons. Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Maine all have legal Cannabis and Swing State Florida as Medical Cannabis.

            And the Dems next great Progressive Champion is Ms. ‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ Warren.

            Yeah, this party is not going back to the days of being “socially centrist” the SJWs, Bernie Bros, and BLM crowd won’t allow it. Identity politics and socialism is where the party is at now gentlemen.

        2. Gradually the Dems may be pulled in that direction but not as quickly as you may think: law enforcement unions will put up a fight.

          1. They’ll put up a fight, but it won’t be enough. 2009-2013, Obama pushed raids throughout California against Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. When recreational cannabis dispensaries opened up in 2014 and 15 in Colorado, what did he do? He had his Justice Department put out memo. This has nothing to do with principles gentlemen. Barack Obama watched voters in the Swing State of Colorado give more votes to cannabis than they gave to him. And in 2014 he watched Cannabis out pace the politicians again in Alaska and Oregon.

            Do you really think the Democrats are gonna spend political capital fighting cannabis legalization and black lives matter when they can just as easily not enforce the federal law and enact minor reforms through prosecutorial discretion? It’s possible, I suppose, but I doubt it.

          2. They’ll put up a fight, but it won’t be enough. 2009-2013, Obama pushed raids throughout California against Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. When recreational cannabis dispensaries opened up in 2014 and 15 in Colorado, what did he do? He had his Justice Department put out memo. This has nothing to do with principles gentlemen. Barack Obama watched voters in the Swing State of Colorado give more votes to cannabis than they gave to him. And in 2014 he watched Cannabis out pace the politicians again in Alaska and Oregon.

            Do you really think the Democrats are gonna spend political capital fighting cannabis legalization and black lives matter when they can just as easily not enforce the federal law and enact minor reforms through prosecutorial discretion? It’s possible, I suppose, but I doubt it.

    3. His tweets are a useful lightning rod for a lot of the Marxist media’s resources. Leaving them far less time and energy to help obstruct important things like this. Honestly, the longer this goes in, the more I think Trump is just p,suing the democrats and the media for chumps.

      1. there were some damn good reasons for mining regulations.hell, it took tto long to get some decent safety protocols. and pollution of our air and waterways is a real thing, yet you guys applaud trump wanting to destroy environmental regulations. trump would probably not mind having government mind my \awn heighjt but wouldnt care if i dumped pollutants in the nearby river

  5. Deregulation may be the only reason to like Trump, but it is a huge issue to me. The potential benefits to the economy are enormous. The fact that a significant number of the Evil party seem to recognize this fact and are willing to work with the Stupids is nothing short of amazing.

    1. Yeah, deregulation is key. Doing things that let people actually let people work.

      One thing I hate about the automation discussion is that it seems to assume that it’s the only reason people are having a hard time finding jobs. Like there is no role of law and regulation that butt fucks hiring.

    2. Stopping the Apparatchik State is Job One.
      The Deep State is the enemy.

  6. That’s cool. By the way, why is it that this racist Trump guy nominates swarthy people? Muh narrative.

    1. Well, they aren’t REAL people of color. They can’t be sine they don’t think the correct thoughts and support what they are told to,support. Which is true freedom.

  7. I wonder if this is a genuine concern from Trump, or a thing from Bannon, or from someone else who has Trump’s ear, but it’s been pretty remarkable. Only Rand and probably Cruz would have done anything like this. Under Hillary or Bernie it would have been a full-on regulatory dystopia by now

    1. It is very curious. Honestly, the type of policy he’s more open about seems to be slightly against this type of regulatory reform.

      But, I chalk this up to never understanding anything ever going on with Trump. It’s like whitenoise that sometimes works out for me.

      1. Not really that curious. Trump spent his entire adult life as a real estate developer. I imagine he’s seen enough regulatory BS firsthand to turn him against it.

    2. It is certainly a Bannon thing. Don’t know how many others.

  8. Well, well, well. Reason is almost ready to admit that, on regulation, Trump just might be the better person than the magazine’s handpicked first choice for president: HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON.

    1. Please, TREASON magazine is the preferred nomenclature.

  9. That sounds nice and once again shows that Hillary was worse.

  10. “…with professionals even Democrats praise”

    and this is a positive thing??

    1. That gave me pause too. When Ruling Reptiles of both parties agree, we should get nervous.

      Signals the kind of deregulation that enriches corporations and screws the peasants.

  11. What the ef is a “policy entrepreneur”?

  12. #DrainTheDeepState

  13. She’ll be great, agreed. But you’ve confused the cloture vote with confirmation, or as CEI put it, “voted to advance her nomination.”

    At 3:45 p.m. or so, Monday, July 10, the Senate entered executive session to debate her confirmation.

    From the last Congressional Record:

    3 p.m., Monday, July 10
    Senate Chamber

    Program for Monday: Senate will resume consideration of the nomination of Neomi Rao, of the District of Columbia, to be Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, with a vote on confirmation of the nomination at approximately 5:30 p.m. Following disposition of the Rao nomination, Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of David C. Nye, of Idaho, to be United States District Judge for the District of Idaho.

    1. Not that they’re actually debating her. Bill Nelson (D-FL) talked about student debt and John Cornyn (R-TX) is talking about the Affordable Care Act.

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