WASHINGTON — President Obama’s “regulatory czar,” Cass Sunstein, will return to Harvard Law School after serving three years as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the White House said Friday.
“Cass has shown that it is possible to support economic growth without sacrificing health, safety, and the environment,” Obama said in a statement. “With these reforms and his tenacious promotion of cost-benefit analysis, his efforts will benefit Americans for years to come.”
Sunstein, who met Obama when they both taught at the University of Chicago Law School, also won plaudits from business leaders and Republicans, who credited him with reducing the financial burden of government regulations.
“He was a strong force for creative policy solutions in a political environment that was highly polarized,” John Graham, who ran the office under President George W. Bush, told Businessweek.
The Business Roundtable, a Washington-based group of executives headed by John Engler, former Michigan GOP governor, also lauded his tenure.
In a statement, Engler said, “Cass accepted the input of business, sought balance, and understood that regulations do have costs. We hope his replacement will strike the same tone.”
But others said they believe Sunstein has weakened or blocked regulations on private business proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other agencies.
“In the final analysis, Sunstein has continued the Bush administration’s tradition of using the office to block needed health and safety protections disliked by big business and political contributors,” said Rena Steinzor, a professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and president of the Center for Progressive Reform, a Washington think tank. “Sunstein’s departure is an opportunity for the administration to reset its regulatory policy and embrace public health and safety protections that have long been stalled in the White House.”
The high marks for Sunstein from business interests seemed to contradict ads run by the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, which accuse the Obama administration of instituting “job-killing regulations that are costing the economy billions.”
Sunstein, who left Harvard Law School in 2009 to join the White House staff, is married to Samantha Power, a former member of the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School who now heads the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council.
Romney seeks delay in cuts to spending on military
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Mitt Romney said Congress and the president should delay looming cuts in military and domestic spending for at least one year.
The Republican presidential contender said Friday during a campaign trip to Las Vegas that the cuts would be ‘‘terrible,’’ particularly for the military.
Congress approved the cuts as part of a deal to reduce the deficit. They were designed to prompt lawmakers to come up with a better plan. But that didn’t happen — so the cuts are scheduled to go into effect next year.
Romney says he wants President Obama and lawmakers to work together to put, in his words, ‘‘a year’s runway,’’ in place to give the next president time to reform the tax system and ensure the military’s needs are met.
Ex-senator says bathroom trip was Senate business
BOISE, Idaho — Larry Craig, former Republican senator, aims to fend off a federal election lawsuit against him by arguing his infamous July 11, 2007, Minneapolis airport bathroom visit that ended in his sex-sting arrest was part of his official Senate business.
Craig is hoping to avoid repaying $217,000 in campaign funds the Federal Election Commission asserts he misused to defend himself.
The FEC sued Craig in June in US District Court in Washington, D.C., alleging he converted the campaign money to personal use by spending it on his legal defense after he was accused of soliciting sex in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom. The commission argues Craig’s defense had no connection to his campaign for federal office.
Craig counters that money tied to his airport bathroom trip falls under his official, reimbursable duties as senator because he was traveling between Idaho and the nation’s capital for work. He cites a Senate rule in which reimbursable per diem expenses include charges for bathrooms.
‘‘Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator’s use of a bathroom while on official travel,’’ wrote Andrew Herman, Craig’s lawyer in Washington, D.C., in documents filed Thursday.
Michelle Obama raising campaign money in Mass.
SPRINGFIELD — Michelle Obama is raising money in the Bay State for President Obama’s reelection campaign, including a $20,000-a-seat dinner at Governor Deval Patrick’s summer home in the Berkshires.
The first lady began her tour Friday with a $1,000-a-seat luncheon at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, followed by an afternoon fund-raising reception at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. The reception featured singer James Taylor, with tickets starting at $150.