NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulatory Power Of The President

December 6, 2000

The next president may have less ability to use federal regulators to set economic and business policy, say lobbyists and academic analysts. Regulatory policies won't be set until the Senate confirms new Cabinet secretaries, deputies and assistants, and the chiefs of independent agencies.

"Under the best of circumstances, we projected the next administration would have its team in place by Nov. 1 of next year," said Paul Light, presidential transitions expert at the Brookings Institution. "If this goes on much longer, it will probably be late February or early March 2002."

However, the new president will have considerable regulatory power, through the appointment of hundreds of officials wielding power largely unchecked by Congress.

  • For example, he will appoint four of the seven Federal Communications Commission members in his first year, and a majority of the governors on the Federal Reserve Board during his four-year term.
  • And the outcome of the Justice Department's lawsuit seeking a break-up of Microsoft Corp., now in a federal appeals court, could depend on a new president's willingness to settle.
  • The same holds for the Justice Department's lawsuit against American Airlines Inc. alleging predatory-pricing practices.

Clinton has exercised his executive powers in recent weeks by issuing regulations, as did former President Jimmy Carter during his last weeks. Ronald Reagan declared a regulatory moratorium, but had less success rolling back Carter's initiatives.

Experts warn that it's harder for a president to deregulate than it is to regulate.

Source: Jim Landers, "Election conflict sets stage for regulatory battles," Dallas Morning News, December 4, 2000.


Browse more articles on Government Issues