The Regulatory Presidency

by Stuart Shapiro

Much of what President Obama talked about in his inaugural address yesterday will be difficult to achieve with a House of Representatives controlled by Republicans.  However as predecessors such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton learned, President Obama has tools available to him that will play a big role in his second term.  Cary Coglianese explains:

Administrative agencies always possess considerable discretionary power under the statutes that give them governmental authority. That general discretion allows them to pursue other policies largely on their own initiative – or with prodding from the White House.
Already federal agencies have in the pipeline a number of major new rules we can expect to see issued over the next few years.  In Obama’s second term, look for revisions to federal smog standards, the adoption of the so-called Volcker Rule on how banks can invest their funds, and a Department of Transportation standard requiring automakers to install costly rearview cameras on new cars.
In addition, federal agencies are also likely to take a close look during Obama’s second term at a range of new energy regulations, including those affecting offshore oil drilling, coal extraction, pipeline safety, and natural gas production. We can also expect renewed efforts to adopt a myriad of regulations affecting financial markets, including those dealing with money-market mutual funds and consumer credit.
I expect immigration reform and maybe gun background check legislation to get through Congress.  Other than that legislative policy, the focus of Obama’s first term will be largely spent on the budget.  But that doesn’t mean that Obama’s second term will be limited to what House Republicans agree to.

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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