September 3, 2015

Silas Palmer Fellow Uses Hoover Archives To Uncover The Early Influence Of The White House On Regulation Policy

Editor’s Note: The White House became “head overseer of regulatory policy” during the Nixon Administration based on regulatory analysis tools developed during the Johnson Administration. See here.

From: Hoover Institution

By Erik Erlandson

Today, the American executive branch wields enormous control over the shape of federal economic regulation. This influence is centralized in an executive agency called the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which was created in 1980 to review (and often revise) the hundreds of new rules that had poured out of Washington in the preceding two decades. Every subsequent president—from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama—has made use of the office to help implement their domestic agenda. The gatekeepers at OIRA, often referred to as an administration’s regulation or deregulation “czars,” have secured a critical role ensuring that rules for the private sector reflect presidential policy.

My dissertation, “Regulator-In-Chief: How the Executive Branch Took Control of the State in Postwar America,” examines the political, legal, and economic developments that led to the White House becoming head overseer of regulatory policy. It uncovers the first attempts by executive offices to affect bureaucratic decision-making, and shows how and why these new uses of executive power were legally ratified and politically institutionalized on the eve of the Reagan Revolution.

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