Sunstein will likely have plenty to say regarding the regulations of the Obama health care overhaul, for example. The law has 41 provisions that require rule-making to implement the law. Sunstein has written that in the absence of an opt-out, every person who dies has consented to donate their organs for transplantation. Also in the health law are requirements for 38 studies and 59 evaluations which undoubtedly will require regulations that will be guided by commendations of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Sunstein has expressed some views that are so far out of the mainstream, they don’t seem to be even in the river of rational thought. He said at a Harvard speech, for instance, “We ought to ban hunting.” He also has written that “the law should impose further regulation on hunting, scientific experiments, entertainment, and (above all) farming to ensure against unnecessary animal suffering.” He has written that “we could even grant animals a right to bring suit…I have not been able to find any federal statute that allows animals to sue in their own names. It seems possible…Congress will grant standing to animals to protect their own rights and interests.” The Twilight Zone comes quickly to one’s mind.
The new law to overhaul financial regulations, which is to be overseen by a 10-member council of regulators headed by the Treasury Secretary would supposedly monitor threats to our financial system. It would decide if a company was so big that its failure would crack the financial system. Such companies would have tougher regulation. The law will affect consumer protection, the Federal Reserve System, capital cushions for banks, executives’ pay, mortgage loans, and credit rating agencies.
This vast new law has 533 rules or rule-making provisions, calls for 60 studies, and 93 reports. To indicate the complexity, “the Sarbanes-Oxley law (enacted in 2002, which set a broad range of standards in the aftermath of financial scandals), by comparison, had only 16 rules and six studies,” Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs of the Chamber of Commerce, told me. He said, “That took two and a half years to write the rules.” Josten also told me the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, passed by a hair in the House last June, contained 397 new regulations, 1,060 mandates for studies and reports eventually leading to rulemaking, if the Senate should pass a similar version of that bill.
Sunstein has expressed views on what the Internet might be like in the future to provide more diverse views. “Websites might use links and hyperlinks to ensure that viewers learn about sites containing opposing views,” he has written. “A liberal magazine’s website might, for example, provide a link to a conservative magazine’s website, and the conservative magazine might do the same. The idea would be to decrease the likelihood that people will simply hear echoes of their own voices. Here, too, the ideal situation would be voluntary action. But if this proves impossible, it is worth considering both subsidies and regulatory alternatives….
“The basic question is whether it might be possible to create spaces that have some of the functions of public forums and general interest intermediaries in the age of the Internet. It seems clear that government’s power to regulate effectively is diminished as the number of options expands.”
In his 2009 book, “On Rumors,” Sunstein dutifully defends Obama’s radical ties. He writes that it is an “insidious lie that Obama pals around with terrorists,” such as Bill Ayers (who bombed the Pentagon in his earlier days). Sunstein was once described as such a prolific writer, he turns out a book as often as most people run their washing machines. Now he will be more than busy with the raft of federal regulations.
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