Regular readers know that the federal government issues about 3,700 new regulations in an average year. But how many of those rules actually receive proper review, with cost and benefit estimates? Wayne Crews and I did some digging on that front, and the answer is not pretty: the Office of Management and Budget reviewed a grand total of 47 regulations last year, or a little more than 1 percent of the total. In today’s Washington Times, we lay out the problem and propose some solutions:
The OMB should ensure any new proposal creates more value than it destroys. One reason agencies regulate so recklessly is that they know few people are paying attention. Expanding Executive Order 12866 to include independent agencies would allow the agency to review more rules, though it would still fall well short of transparency. The Code of Federal Regulations contains more than 1 million regulations, with thousands more being added every year, according to George Mason University’s RegData project.
If only Washington paid as much attention to regulations as we’re learning it pays to our private phone calls and emails.
Read the whole thing here.
Have a listen here.
Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews is author of the new CEI study, “The Other National Debt Crisis: How and Why Congress Must Quantify Regulation.” He discusses a few of his many ideas for deregulating the economy, including a regulatory budget, improved cost analysis, and lowering the threshold of “economically significant” regulations from $100 million to $25 million. This would require OMB to review more than the roughly 5 percent of new rules that it currently analyzes. The other 95 percent should not slip through the cracks.
Have a listen here.
In a speech tonight, President Obama is expected to announce the creation of a government infrastucture bank as part of his plan to reduce unemployment. Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews explains why it won’t work as planned, and offers an alternative idea: liberalization.
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Spending, deficits, and taxes are getting all the attention from reformers in both parties. In today’s Investor’s Business Daily, Wayne Crews and I argue that regulation is not to be forgotten:
Regulations cost the average business $8,086 per employee per year. Small businesses are especially hard-hit. Firms with fewer than 20 employees pay $10,585 per employee per year for regulatory compliance, according to the Crains’ report. When hiring employees becomes more expensive, fewer get hired. No wonder unemployment is so persistent.
We also offer up some reform ideas:
One reform is to purge the books of obsolete and clearly harmful rules. There is no need for Washington to have rules still on the books for a Y2K crisis that never even materialized. Nor is there any need for it to regulate the size of holes in Swiss cheese, which it does in great detail.
President Obama should appoint an annual bipartisan commission to comb through the Code of Federal Regulations and recommend rules for elimination. Congress would then be required to vote up-or-down on the package without amendment.
Read the article here; for more intellectual ammunition, see the just-released 2011 edition of Wayne’s “Ten Thousand Commandments” study.
Wayne Crews and I have a piece in today’s Sacramento Bee summarizing the main findings of Wayne’s “Ten Thousand Commandments” study. We also point out that regulatory costs are not limited to the $1.75 trillion it takes to comply with them:
The total cost of federal regulation is $1.75 trillion. That’s true in terms of money. But money isn’t everything. Regulation also has opportunity costs. Workers spend millions of man-hours every year filling out forms and following procedures. That time could be spent on other things instead, such as finding ways to lower costs, improve quality and increase worker productivity. When there’s too much regulation, progress and innovation slow down.
There is a second opportunity cost that is often overlooked. Companies don’t sit idly by when regulators propose new rules. They try to influence the process. Most companies, especially larger ones, often favor new regulations in their industries. They will pay lobbyists a lot of money to influence the rules in a favorable way – say, by handicapping a competitor.
The 2011 edition of Wayne Crews’ “Ten Thousand Commandments” was released today. The annual study gives a big-picture view of the regulatory state. You can read it here. Some of the main findings:
-Federal regulations cost $1.75 trillion per year. That’s equivalent to about half of federal spending. Government’s cost is actually about 50 percent bigger than most people think.
-Agencies issued 3,752 final rules in 2010. At that pace, a new rule comes into effect every two hours or so.
-Another 4,225 rules are in the pipeline right now.
-The Federal Register hit an all-time high 81,405 pages in 2010.
-Economically significant regulations are way up. These are defined as rules that have over $100 million of economic impact. There were 224 in 2010. That’s a 22 percent increase over 2009’s 184.