Obama Taps Howard Shelanski To Be New White House Regulatory Czar

By Reuters

Published April 26, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday he would pick Howard Shelanski, an antitrust expert, as his new regulatory czar, a powerful White House position charged with reviewing regulations proposed by government departments.

Shelanski, who is both an economist and a lawyer, is currently in charge of a team of economists that reviews competition and consumer protection issues at the Federal Trade Commission.

He was described by lawyers who know him as a sophisticated analyst who has a pragmatic approach gained from spending time in the trenches of a government agency.

“In my opinion, he’s a home run,” said William Eskridge, law professor at Yale University, who praised Shelanski for his intellect.

The regulatory czar is formally called the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA - a body within the White House budget office.

Shelanski would replace Cass Sunstein, a well known and often controversial author who left the White House in August to return to teach at Harvard Law School.

During Sunstein’s tenure, the White House came under fire from environmental groups for thwarting regulations that were deemed to cost too much, including killing a smog rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“I think its mission was to stop rules,” said Rena Steinzor, a law professor at University of Maryland, and president of the Center for Progressive Reform, a group that pushes for tougher environmental and health regulations.

Meanwhile, business lobby groups and Republicans have accused OIRA of not doing enough to slow regulations they view as burdensome and overreaching.

“It’s a kind of a thankless job,” said Michael Livermore, executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law.

“You’re almost guaranteed to have a lot of forces aligned against you and unhappy with you,” said Livermore, who called Shelanski a “balanced thinker” who understands the complex regulatory process.


Shelanski is an affable person who is skilful at persuasion, said David Balto, a public-interest antitrust lawyer who said he has frequently found himself on the losing end of the argument.

“He has never agreed with anything I have ever proposed!” said Balto, policy director at the Federal Trade Commission during the Clinton administration.

“He’s the kind of person who knows how to work well with people of very different perspectives and reach agreement,” said Balto.

Shelanski was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He spent a decade on the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley. He also worked as the chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission and was a White House economist during the Clinton administration.

“He has a reputation as a straight shooter with no obvious ax to grind,” said Bruce Kraus, partner with Kelley Drye & Warren LLP in New York City.

The job requires Senate confirmation, which was difficult for his predecessor Sunstein. But Shelanski’s lower public profile and impressive experience could make the confirmation process easier.

“I don’t know his politics, but anyone with both the Berkeley faculty and a Scalia clerkship on his resume, without knowing more, looks like a good bet for confirmation,” Kraus said.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.