Public Interest Group Criticizes Attack on OMB Nominee

Washington, D.C., March 13, 2001—The Competitive Enterprise Institute is accusing critics of the Administration’s new Office of Management and Budget nominee, John D. Graham, of attempting to shield their regulatory agendas from accountability.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Responding to Public Citizen’s new critique of Graham, who has been nominated to head OMB’s regulatory office, CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman stated: “Public Citizen has played a hand in some of the worst regulatory fiascos in this nation’s history. A prime example is the air bag mandate, which has killed 100 children to date. For this group to oppose John Graham’s insistence on regulatory analysis is the height of irony.”


Public Citizen focuses much of its attack on industry funding for Graham’s Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. While industry funding may be a catchy slur, Kazman says its impact on the accuracy of regulatory analysis is far more questionable. For example, of all the analyses performed by government and outside groups during the debate over the air bag mandate, the effectiveness estimates submitted by General Motors have, in retrospect, turned out to be the most accurate.


“If Public Citizen head Joan Claybrook had demonstrated even a fraction of John Graham’s analytical caution in her push for mandatory air bags, many of the resulting tragedies might have been averted,” Kazman added.


The chief complaint from Graham’s critics is his insistence on regulatory cost benefit analysis. Public Citizen and the Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, charge that such analysis is an unjustified attempt to put dollar values on the lives of our children. But Kazman argues that cost-benefit analysis is nothing more than an attempt to make agencies act more responsibly.


“Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, in his book on over-regulation, explained the phenomenon of regulatory tunnel vision—the tendency of certain agencies to lose sight of the huge costs imposed on society by certain cost-be-damned regulatory programs. The true benefits of such programs are speculative and minimal, but their expense means that more genuine needs go unmet. John Graham’s approach would curtail this insanity. His critics, however, would prefer to perpetuate it,” said Kazman.



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