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Regulation in the Reagan-Bush Era

Regulation in the Reagan-Bush Era: The Eruption of Presidential Influence

Barry D. Friedman
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Regulation in the Reagan-Bush Era
    Book Description:

    This timely and well-researched study describes for the first tim ethe astonishing acquiecence of executive agency officials, members of Congress, and federal judges to Ronald Regan's assertion of extraordinary new presidential power over the federal regulatory process--the controversial Executive Order 12291.From Harry Truman through Jimy Carter, chief executives complained that federal bureaucrats disregarded their policy preferences. presidential influence over regulatory rule making was limited: congressional committees and interest groups commanded more attention. Then in February 1981 Ronal regan abruptly departed from tradition by ordering that regulatory agencies must submit proposed guidelines for Office of Management and Budget approval.Barry D. friedman describes how the executive agencies and Congress responded warily and with skepticism, yet allowed the changes to remain; the judiciary was also willing to retreat from time-honored precedents that had preserved agency prerogative and now accorded due respect to the revolutionary Regan reform initiatives. Institutions that competed for leverage in the system continued to exercise restraint in their mutual relations because they recognized taht all benefitted from the others' viability.This book shows that conventional political science theories and models are now obsolete because of the eruption of presidential control into bureaucratic affairs. new review procedures have restructured relations between the president and the agencies and among the government's three branches. because of Regan's radical initiative, President Bill Clinton and his successors will sit at the bargaining table when regulation policy is developed in Washington, and political theorists will have to work from a new conception of presidential prerogative.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7366-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    The Reagan era was less than a month old when, on February 17, 1981, the Executive Office of the President (eop) announced the promulgation of Executive Order 12291, “Federal Regulation.”¹ The order instructed executive regulatory agencies to submit proposed regulations to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (oira) in the Office of Management and Budget (omb), a component of the eop. Oira would then submit proposed regulations to a cost-benefit analysis to determine their fitness. Proposals that failed this economic test would presumably be repudiated by oira, leaving the executive regulatory agency with the Hobson’s choice of either aborting...

  2. 1 Regulation
    (pp. 7-19)

    The term “regulation” refers to government control over certain actions and decisions by business managers. Early regulation in Great Britain and the United States was designed primarily to control prices of and prescribe accessibility to privately operated essential services. The tenet ofjustum pretium—“just price”—was a facet of Roman law and a component of English common law. Sir Matthew Hale, Lord Chief Justice of England, wrote an essay on rates for wharf services in 1670, defending the necessity of public regulation of private industries that affect the public interest. He explained:

    If the King or subject have a...

  3. 2 The Regulatory Oversight Role of the Presidency and Vice Presidency
    (pp. 20-42)

    Until the 1980s, the role of the presidency in federal regulation was limited. In 1971, Roger G. Noll wrote, “Although the President could exercise authority over regulatory agencies, there is little evidence that he or his administration makes much of an attempt to do so.”¹ As Morton Rosenberg observes, the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 reserves no place for presidential involvement.² Other sources note that the icc was given independent status in 1889 for the express purpose of putting railroad regulation policy out of the reach of Republican President Benjamin Harrison.³ The recent trend toward presidential control, which will be...

  4. 3 Processes of Regulatory Relief
    (pp. 43-58)

    Students of public administration and public policy are familiar with “incrementalism” as an explanation for how public policy is made. As described by David Braybrooke and Charles E. Lindblom, incrementalism is the making of next year’s policy by applying small, incremental changes to this year’s policy.¹ The traditional line-item budgeting process, in which each agency’s budget is increased by some modest percentage from one year to the next, is characteristic of incrementalism.² The alternative to incrementalism is the approach of rationalism, or the “comprehensive” method, in which an exhaustive list of alternatives is prepared, each evaluated thoroughly, and the most...

  5. 4 Concerns About Implementation
    (pp. 59-75)

    Reagan administration critics, especially social action interest groups, vehemently denounced the review process conducted by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (oira) as representing the ultimate concession to the business community—i.e., the elimination of regulations that would otherwise constrain its operations. In 1981, George C. Eads wondered aloud whether the new administration would really “coordinate” rule making or would simply be a “sharpshooter, taking aim at this or that politically sensitive regulation.” He predicted then that oira would opt for the sharpshooter approach.¹ By the next year, advocates of regulation concluded that Eads’s prediction was all too accurate....

  6. 5 The Executive Agencies
    (pp. 76-105)

    The ingenuity of the framers of the Constitution is reflected in the competition for power institutionalized in the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances. But unlike combatants in a war, who may be motivated to inflict severe damage on each other, or the competitors in the business world, who might obtain economic benefits from driving others out of business, the officials of the United States political system rarely have any incentive to inflict lasting damage on other centers of influence in the same system. If Congress were to inflict heavy damage on the executive branch (say,...

  7. 6 Congress’s Involvement in Regulation and Reform
    (pp. 106-121)

    President Ronald Reagan’s regulatory review process tested prevalent understandings of the relationship between the legislative and executive branches. The commonplaces of bureaucracy portray a president who exercises unity-of-command authority over the bureaucracy; the legislative branch’s control over agency charters and authority and appropriations within agencies suggests that Congress exercises control over an agency’s life and death. The growth of congressional oversight over the years prompted scholars to place Congress in the lead in the competition for control over the bureaucracy.¹ However, Congress had also sown the seeds for a rising presidential role. As Rourke observes:

    In placing broad discretionary powers...

  8. 7 Judicial Reaction to Presidential Control
    (pp. 122-133)

    The federal judiciary received cases pertaining to presidential intervention in the rule-making process in the late 1970s and in the 1980s, on the heels of a series of judicial decisions that emphatically called for considerations of due process, openness, and equity for all interested parties.¹ Public interest groups turned reflexively to the judiciary, which had delivered impressive victories to advocacy groups in the past, confident that the judicial branch would rebuff the Reagan administration’s unprecedented level of intrusion into the rulemaking process. But the Supreme Court had already shown signs that it was displeased with the extent to which the...

  9. 8 Three Case Studies
    (pp. 134-148)

    In this chapter, we will profile three rule-making efforts as a way of considering three possible fates that await the ideas of federal regulators. Each case illustrates a different category of intervention by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (oira). First, we will consider a case study of a regulatory design that was reviewed by the oira and was eventually promulgated without oira-inspired substantive change. Second, we will study a regulatory design that was reviewed by oira and was promulgated with relatively minor oira-inspired substantive change. And third, we will consider a case study of a regulatory design that...

  10. 9 Implications for Regulatory Reform
    (pp. 149-159)

    The Nixon, Ford, and Carter reforms and the visions of economists for more efficient regulation, which had been merely a sideshow, were embellished and took on new life as President Ronald Reagan unleashed a determined assault on the regulatory system. The results were so extensive that even a Franklin Roosevelt or a Louis Brownlow might have been impressed.

    The Regulatory Program issued by the Office of Management and Budget (omb) for 1988–89 provided a statement of outcomes which the Reagan administration proudly claimed as improvements arising from the Reagan reform. Omb touted these accomplishments: (1) requiring justification of regulatory...

  11. 10 Regulatory Review After Reagan
    (pp. 160-178)

    Ronald Reagan, his circle of conservative ideologues, and a Republican Senate majority roared into Washington in late 1980 with the clear intention of engaging in bold confrontation with progressive Democratic legislators, progressive interest groups, and the purportedly antibusiness bureaucracy. The Reagan Revolution is often characterized as a radical movement because it planned a real departure from the regulatory state and welfare state, which had been either championed or conceded by every president from 1933 to 1980.

    Reagan’s mandatory retirement and George Bush’s accession to the presidency resulted in a suspension of the antiregulation fervor that had emanated from the White...

  12. 11 Theoretical Frameworks
    (pp. 179-192)

    The framers of the United States Constitution adopted Montesquieu’s concept of the separation of powers, and established three branches: The legislative branch makes laws, the executive branch administers those laws, and the judicial branch applies those laws to cases and controversies that arise subsequent to the laws’ execution. The framers, anxious that anyone branch’s monopolization of its corresponding power might give it a license to exert dangerously untrammeled power,¹ also constructed a system of checks and balances. Many of these checks and balances violate the principle of separation of powers; for example, when the president vetoes an Act of Congress,...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 193-194)

    As a process aimed at restructuring the relationship between the presidency and the executive agencies, the executive agencies and Congress, and the executive agencies and the courts, the regulatory relief program generated some fascinating dynamics of organizational behavior. Early in the Reagan era, some observers predicted that the executive agencies would defy the president, pointing to literature that showed a succession of presidents bemoaning bureaucratic resistance to their directives. Some observers predicted that Congress would mobilize to terminate the regulatory relief process to protect Congress’s relationship with the agencies it guarded so jealously. Even though the tight “partnership” between the...