K. Sabeel Rahman

Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School, and Co-Founder, Law and Political Economy Project

Washington, DC

@ksabeelrahman

Experience

  • Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget
  • Demos
  • Roosevelt Institute

Expertise

  • Democracy and governance
  • Regulatory and industrial policy
  • Constitutional law and the Supreme Court

Education

  • Harvard University, Ph.D., J.D., A.B. 
  • Oxford University, M.S., M.St.

Recent Coverage

NOV 22, 2023

American Prospect: Washington Tweaks How It Prices the Future

The drop from a 3 to 2 percent discount rate, said K. Sabeel Rahman, a Cornell law professor who until recently ran OIRA as associate administrator, “basically suggests that we have been vastly undercounting future benefits and costs, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.”

“A lot of times what ends up happening is, in public discourse, we will take a monetary value where we have one, because it’s easy to talk about, and then where we don’t have a monetary value, we’ll overlook that issue,” Rahman said. “The point of the new A-4 is, quantify and monetize where you can, but you shouldn’t ignore impacts just because you don’t have a number. You still have to analyze it rigorously.”


OCT 2, 2023

Axios: The Supreme Court and the Fed

“At the extreme, a ruling against the CFPB could also undercut the authority and potentially invalidate the decisions of other agencies who are also not funded by annual Congressional appropriations … which could spark devastating market uncertainties,” K. Sabeel Rahman, a Cornell law professor, tells Axios. “Even a more tempered ruling limited to the CFPB would still court economic chaos, undercutting vital rules for mortgage markets and essential protections for consumers,” said Rahman, who served in the Biden administration.


SEP 16, 2023

HuffPost: The Biden Administration Is Making It Easier To Get Government Benefits

“This is a really big paradigm shift because part of Reaganomics was not just trickle down, but also the period of the welfare queen with attacks on people who were relying on the safety net and really trying to kick people off the rolls as much as possible,” said K. Sabeel Rahman, who helped spearhead this policy as associate administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under Biden until January 2023. “What you’re seeing with this administration is a very different mentality.”


JUL 27, 2023

POLITICO | Biden takes on hot planet summer

Biden said Thursday that extreme heat costs the U.S. economy $100 billion a year. That’s likely an understatement, said Sabeel Rahman, who until recently was an associate administrator in Biden’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “The systemwide nature of it is pretty mind-boggling,” Rahman said.

The federal government has only limited ability to respond to extreme heat, which is not legally recognized as a disaster. The administration is also hampered by years of budget cuts to federal agencies and an increasingly conservative federal judiciary and Supreme Court, Rahman said. “We’re paying the price for the decades of attacks on our regulatory capacity,” said Rahman, who is now a professor at Cornell Law School. “It creates a lot of friction and makes it harder to do big things like this.”


JUL 24, 2023

HuffPost | How ‘Bidenomics’ Came To Be, And How It Could Survive

“When you think about what Bidenomics’ big picture is about, it’s about looking at our political economy and the market system as a whole and trying to make it more inclusive and more dynamic and responsive to the public’s needs,” Rahman said. “Those are the kind of big picture things that old-school analytic approaches would not represent accurately.”


JUL 13, 2023

Bloomberg | Bidenomics Has a Big Problem: Too Many Goals

It’s not unusual for a president to ask agencies from across the government to tackle the same issue, though it’s been more “intentional” in the Biden administration, says K. Sabeel Rahman, a professor at Cornell Law School and former regulations adviser to Biden. “Even if these investments are one-off, it’s a big amount that Congress has authorized,” Rahman says. “The obligation is to make the absolute most of that investment.”


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About Sabeel

Sabeel Rahman is a Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. He is also a co-founder and faculty co-chair of the Law and Political Economy Project. His academic research focuses on issues of democracy, governance, economic power, political economy paradigms, racial equity, and inequality. He works extensively with a range of think tanks, advocacy organizations, and foundations to develop novel approaches to addressing these issues in practice.

From 2021-2023, he served in the Biden-Harris Administration where he led the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). At OIRA, he oversaw the policy review and approval of all significant federal regulations and played a lead role in the Administration’s efforts on equity, data and information policy, and reforming regulatory analysis. From 2018-2021, he served as President of Demos, a national racial justice think tank and advocacy organization that played a key role in combatting voter suppression and developing and mainstreaming major policy ideas from climate justice to student debt relief to energy democracy.

He is the author Democracy Against Domination (Oxford University Press, 2017), and Civic Power (with Hollie Russon Gillman, Cambridge University Press, 2019). His popular writings have appeared in venues like The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Boston Review, Dissent, and The Washington Post.