Regulatory reform is one of the most important policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis. In the short run, removing obstacles to health care can save lives. Removing barriers against remote education, telecommuting, and gig jobs can help people make ends meet during a lockdown with double-digit unemployment. But getting rid of this or that #NeverNeeded regulation is not enough. Policy makers need to reform the rulemaking process that continues to generate all these bad rules.
In a new paper, I outline two such reforms. One addresses the large stock of existing regulations. The other addresses the ongoing flow of new rules.
To address the stock of regulations, Congress and the president should create an independent Regulatory Reduction Commission to go through the 185,000-page Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and annually send to Congress an omnibus package of rules to repeal. The paper contains suggestions for how to tackle the CFR in manageable chunks over a 10-year cycle, how to structure the commission’s membership so neither party can stack it, how to prevent Congress from stalling or watering down the package, and more.
That will reduce the stock of existing regulations to a more reasonable level. To keep regulatory sludge from building back up, the annual flow of 3,000 new regulations should have automatic 10-year sunsets for each rule. Just as every carton of milk has an expiration date, so should regulations. Congress can renew them easily enough. And as times and technology change, so should regulations. Automatic sunsets give agencies a powerful incentive to regularly review their rules to make sure they are working as they should, and update them if needed.
The whole paper is here.
More regulatory reform ideas are in the new 2020 edition of Wayne Crews’s Ten Thousand Commandments.
CEI’s #NeverNeeded website is here.