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Advancing the Public Interest Through Regulatory Reform: Recommendations for President-Elect Obama and the 111th Congress

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Abstract:

The current regulatory process no longer adequately protects the public. Examples of regulatory problems make national news almost daily: the crises in the housing and financial sectors; mine and crane collapses; contaminants in consumer products like toothpaste and pet food; contamination of spinach, jalapenos, meat, and other foods; dangerous chemicals used in popular medicines; and the exploitation of our public lands and natural resources.

The process is not only fraught with procedural hurdles, but is one that has been dominated by special interests. Americans not only expect their government to protect them from financial harm, but also from other dangers by providing common-sense protections and better enforcement. Most observers concur that the regulatory process is in need of serious repair.

The new president and Congress must address this problem with urgency and precision in order to restore trust in government and protect the public good. Government needs to change the quality of our rules; simplify the process by which they are made, reviewed, implemented, and enforced; make the process more transparent; and provide the resources necessary to make and implement wise decisions that serve the public good.