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Cass Sunstein: Closer to Regulatory Czar Status

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By Neetal Parekh on September 10, 2009 1:36 PM

Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein inched one step closer to being anointed as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) yesterday after Democrats succeeded in breaking the filibuster against the candidate.  Sunstein was tapped by President Obama for the position-- known as the "Regulatory Czar"-- which is responsible for reviewing effectiveness of federal regulations.  And that could be big news for for small business. 

The role Sunstein is in line to fill, Regulatory Czar, is another in the number of "czars" appointed in the new administration's government.  As head of OIRA in particular, Sunstein would be charged with evaluating the effectiveness of various federal policy and regulation through cost-benefit analysis. 

Cass Sunstein is known in academic and economic circles for furthering the field of "law and behavioral economics" that looks to adapt law and policy to fit how people actually behave.  Tailoring small business policy on how entrepreneurs and start-ups actually act as they try to bring an idea to market, could help to better meet unique needs such as opening avenues for procuring funding, clarifying trademark and patent laws, and supporting growing technological and security considerations on Main Street.

Sunstein has also been a long-time supporter of animal rights.  He has called for extension of anticruelty laws, including in areas such as farming and scientific experiments, and has focused on preventing unjustified suffering of animals.  And his progressive views have extended beyond animals to topics such as gun control and hunting.

And though these views may have earned him support from the far left, they have irked some conservatives and 2nd Amendment enthusiasts.  However, Sunstein has been busy over the past months assuring Republican representatives of his agreement with and support of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture motion to overcome the holds filed against Sunstein's nomination.  The cloture vote passed 63-35, opening the way to confirmation in September.

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