Rena Steinzor

Rena Steinzor is a professor at the University of Maryland Carey Law School and was president of the Center for Progressive Reform. She is the author of Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction. 


Recent Articles

The War on Regulation

Under Trump, it's open season on health, safety, labor, financial, and environmental measures—that protect people who voted for him.

(Photo: Andrew Harrer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)
This article appears in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . A cornerstone of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign was his declaration of war on regulation and the agencies that write it. He has promised repeatedly to get rid of 75 percent of rules now on the books. More recently, Steve Bannon, the chief policy guru in the Trump White House, defined the mission of the war more accurately as “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Ten days after taking office, Trump issued an executive order to accomplish his regulatory pledge by requiring agencies to kill two rules for every new one they propose, and has held a press event to announce further attacks almost every day. Another major tool is the legislative veto of so-called “midnight” rules issued by the Obama administration in its last five months in office and the passage of “regulatory reform” legislation that would make future rulemaking very...

The Banks Are Even Worse

Storefront payday lenders and check-cashers are all that tens of millions of Americans have. 

AP Photo/Nati Harnik
The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives By Lisa Servon Houghton Mifflin Harcourt This article appears in the Winter 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Unbanked. The term has an ominous undercurrent if you assume, as most of us do, that being “banked” is essential to quality of life. An unbanked person does not have a checking or savings account and lacks access to mainstream credit cards or loans. In 2015, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 7 percent of U.S. households, or about 15.6 million adults and 7.6 million children, qualified for this label. Another 19.9 percent, or about 51.1 million adults and 16.3 million children, were “underbanked,” meaning that they had an account at an insured financial institution but also used “services and products outside of the banking system.” What’s available out in the cold? Payday loans that must be repaid by the next salary...

Putting the REINS on Regulation

In a drastic power grab, the House has approved a measure that would strip executive agencies of the authority to issue significant new regulations.

The House hit the ground running last week on regulatory reform, passing two pieces of legislation that would fast-track the demise of Dodd-Frank financial controls, public health safeguards, and worker and consumer safety protections. Engrossed in confirmation hearings, the Senate has yet to turn its attention to regulatory reform. But as you read this, hundreds of lobbyists representing industries of every stripe are swarming both bodies and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s determination to trash every vestige of the Obama regulatory regime shows no signs of abating. The first and most drastic plan to up-end the federal regulatory framework is coyly entitled “ Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny ” or the REINS Act, as in pulling a galloping horse to a grinding halt. Under this plan, no “major” rule imposing costs on the economy of $100 million or more annually can take effect unless Congress passes a “resolution of approval”...

Beware Compounded Drugs -- Especially Under Trump’s FDA

A burgeoning and little-regulated private industry that specially mixes drugs at so-called compounding pharmacies poses a public-health hazard that the Trump administration is about to make a whole lot worse.

John Zsiray/Herald Journal via AP
President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to eliminate 70 to 80 percent of all federal regulations, and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rulebook is near the top of his list. Close Trump adviser Newt Gingrich has denounced the FDA as the nation’s leading “job killer,” and has called the agency “a major prison guard stopping the breakout in health.” If the Trump administration makes good on these threats, an already weakened FDA could approach paralysis, exposing millions of patients to unsafe medications. Particularly at risk will be those who receive ostensibly “sterile” injections for back and neck pain, among other ailments, from compounding pharmacies. Essentially small businesses with overweening national ambitions, compounders were implicated in a deadly meningitis outbreak in 2012, and continue to manufacture potentially dangerous drugs administered to millions of Americans. Federal prosecutors have accused them of...

Dangerous Bedfellows

The stalemate on criminal justice reform. 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
This article appears in the the Spring 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . In February 2015, a startling collection of strange political bedfellows assembled to promote mass-incarceration reform at all levels of government. The U.S., with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, incarcerates more than 20 percent of all prisoners. Sixty percent of the imprisoned are racial and ethnic minorities. Between 2001 and 2010, eight million people were arrested on marijuana charges; African Americans were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession as whites. Fiscal and libertarian conservatives (Koch Industries, FreedomWorks, and Right on Crime) joined the group to emphasize the urgency of cutting prison spending, which is about $80 billion annually and unsustainable for many states, as well as the importance of freeing nonviolent offenders from government control. Liberals (the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the NAACP, the ACLU, and the...