President Obama's regulation czar may have revealed the loophole by which many job- and liberty-killing regulations may remain in place during a Congressional hearings. Cass Sunstein, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, appearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, discussed President Obama's executive order calling for a review of all regulations to eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies, cited the need to weigh "human dignity" against the cost of a regulation in order to determine its viability.
Of course, the human indignity of joblessness or less freedom resulting from those same regulations didn't quite come up because the hearing was quickly reduced to a GOP gabfest when Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., opened the hearing asking that Sunstein please stick to "yes" or "no" answers to questions from members for the sake of time constraints.
In those few moments when Sunstein could get a word in, he cited the importance of a rule requiring back-up cameras for cars to prevent the deaths of children hit by parents getting out of the driveway, "which will save hundreds of thousands of lives," or rules about "salmonella and eggs."
Except these are clearly areas where the private market could attend to the problem itself -- egg producers don't like killing their customers any more than parents like backing up over their kids. Not that Sunstein was challenged on those grounds -- congressmen were busy speaking over him or interrupting him before he could make a flawed case.
He had to narrow his knowledge of the inner workings of the Obama administration to mere binary responses. It would have been more useful, for instance, had Sunstein been asked to provide examples of regulations that would be eliminated under the executive order. Or if Sunstein could surmise exactly how many regulations would qualify. Or if he could state for the record how many rules have been identified for review thus far?