Category Archives: regulation

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Washington’s attention flitted back and forth between beginning work on a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and a brewing sex scandal allegedly involving Rep. Matt Gaetz and a 17-year-old girl. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from shrimp trawlers to the Community Forest Program.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 48 final regulations last week, after 49 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 30 minutes.
  • With 808 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,258 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,327 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 62 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 50 the previous week.
  • With 553 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,230 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 422 notices last week, after 328 notices the previous week.
  • With 5,429 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,891 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 984 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 883 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 282 pages.
  • With 17,492 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 70,532 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 13 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, with one in the last week. This is on pace for 52 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 142 new rules affect small businesses. Three are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

A massive container ship turned sideways and blocked the Suez canal, halting roughly $10 billion worth of international trade per day, or about $400 million per hour. Trade protectionists in both parties had better be celebrating this catastrophe, or else perhaps they are not as consistent in their beliefs as they say they are. Two regulatory reform bills were introduced in Congress recently, the USA Act, which would cut funding to agencies not authorized by Congress, and the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act, which would create an independent regulatory review commission similar to what CEI scholars have been advocating for years. Meanwhile, agencies issued new rules ranging from radio abuse to the Tariff of Tolls.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 49 final regulations last week, after 45 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 44 minutes.
  • With 748 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,281 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,327 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 50 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 39 the previous week.
  • With 487 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,136 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 328 notices last week, after 436 notices the previous week.
  • With 5,013 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 21,987 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 883 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 844 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 286 pages.
  • With 16,281 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 71,408 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 12 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, with two in the last week. This is on pace for 53 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 130 new rules affect small businesses. Two are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

CEI Commends Sen. Lankford for Introducing Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act

This press release was originally posted on cei.org.

On Thursday, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act. The bill would establish an independent commission to identify regulations harming the COVID-19 response, and compile a package for Congress to vote on.

CEI Senior Fellow Ryan Young said:

“The American economy is a lot different than it was a year ago. We are still adapting to the challenges of COVID recovery, and making the country resilient against whatever the next threat might be. Part of that effort needs to include trimming the 185,000-page Code of Federal Regulations. Much of that code is out of date, was hampering the virus response, and will slow the economic recovery going forward.

“An independent commission like the one in the PPRRA is an effective way to go through all those rules and figure out which ones are worth keeping, and which ones the country is better off without. This is not a red-team/blue-team issue. It is a common sense issue, with a bipartisan heritage going back to the successful BRAC commissions of the 1990s that saved billions of dollars in military spending. Congress and President Biden should jointly pursue this bill or something like it.”

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews said:

“At a time when the administration is passing trillions of dollars of spending in an attempt to jumpstart the economy, powerful deregulatory stimulus, that is, easing or removing unnecessary rules and regulations can make our economy more resilient.

“It is up to Congress has to reassert its primary legislative role and act to reduce regulation, as this juncture ideally can do that via a bipartisan ‘regulatory improvement commission,’ an idea is rooted in bipartisan discussions stretching back over several Congresses.

“The Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act is a logical, sensible, fair and humane approach to dealing with crisis. Under the Act, a bipartisan commission would prepare recommendations for regulatory streamlining, and those would be improved upon by public notice and comment. The resultant report would be issued to Congress, which would have the ability to say yes or no to this new vehicle uniquely expressing an aspect of the will of the people that too often gets neglected. While the regulatory code grows with little relief, the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act provides a way of disciplining it for the public good, and health.”

Read more:

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

CEI published its new Agenda for Congress last week. We also held a launch event featuring Sen. Rand Paul. Meanwhile, the 2021 Federal Register surpassed 15,000 pages. Agencies issued new rules ranging from sablefish season to airplane airbags.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 45 final regulations last week, after 83 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 44 minutes.
  • With 687 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,279 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,327 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 39 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 63 the previous week.
  • With 419 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,014 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,021 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 436 notices last week, after 432 notices the previous week.
  • With 4,693 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 22,563 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 844 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 1,069 pages the previous week.
  • The average Federal Register issue this year contains 290 pages.
  • With 15,067 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 72,438 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 12 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, with two in the last week. This is on pace for 58 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 116 new rules affect small businesses. Two are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

Hayek Was No Diplomat, but He Had a Point

Peter Boettke summarizes’ F.A. Hayek’s famous 1974 Nobel Prize lecture on p. 83 of his new book The Struggle for a Better World:

At the start of Hayek’s lecture, he implores his audience to fess up to the fact that those in the economics profession had nothing to be very proud of, as they had made a mess of things.

This is not how one wins hearts and minds. No wonder Hayek was unpopular in his own profession! But he makes an important point that better diplomats still need to make today, again and again:

Hayek goes on to argue that the cause of the mess was the misconstruing of what economics can, cannot achieve as a science. Economics is a science of complex phenomena, yet the modern administrative state demanded an economics of simple phenomena to accomplish the policy tasks conceived.

Economists and the policy makers they work with need to be more humble. But humility does not come easily to people in public policy. In fact, there is a selection bias against it. People tend not to enter the field unless they believe they can come with a plan that’s better than what everyone else has come up with. This audacity is desirable to some extent–things would rarely improve if nobody thought improvement was possible. Market entrepreneurs must have the same audacity to succeed in their world. But many policy makers do not check their ambitions with enough humility. And unlike private entrepreneurs, there is no profit-and-loss system to let them know when they’re wrong.

CEI Event: Agenda for Congress

CEI hosted a launch event yesterday for our biennial Agenda for Congress. Sen. Rand Paul gave the keynote address. My colleagues Sean Higgins, Iain Murray, and I spoke about the Agenda‘s reforms for labor, trade, and regulatory policy, respectively.

The event is on YouTube here. The Agenda for Congress is here.

Agenda for Congress: Regulatory Reform

CEI’s new agenda for Congress is out now. If you’re interested only in certain issues, individual chapters are downloadable here. We also hosted a launch event yesterday featuring Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The first chapter is on regulatory reform. The focus here is not so much on individual rules, but on the rulemaking process itself. If there is a key message, it is that institutions matter. If you want a better game, you need better rules for the game. Effective reforms don’t just treat symptoms; they treat root causes, too.

To that end, here are a few principles for sound reform:

  • If a rule was not needed during the COVID-19 crisis, it was probably never needed in the first place.
  • Getting rid of specific regulations is not enough. Congress must also reform the systems that create those regulations.
  • Congress—not just the executive—needs to be involved in reform.
  • Congress should require agencies to be more transparent about the regulations they issue and their cost.
  • Remember that regulations are made and enforced by the real-world government we have, not the ideal government we want.
  • Introduce reform bills, even if they won’t pass right now. They need to be ready when the moment is right. It is also important to keep reform ideas and conversations alive. Sometimes the most impactful legislation is introduced knowing full well it will not become law.

We also suggest specific reforms based on these principles:

  • Require transparency for “regulatory dark matter.” This includes guidance documents, announcements, and even press releases and blog posts, which agencies use to make policy changes without going through the proper rulemaking process. Rep. Bob Good’s (R-VA) recently introduced Guidance Out of Darkness (GOOD) Act would do this for guidance documents.
  • Require Congress to vote on all new major agency regulations. Agencies often issue regulations that are not in accordance with congressional legislation. This would provide a check against such abuses. The recently reintroduced Reforms from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, sponsored by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Rand Paul, would do this. See also my paper on the REINS Act.
  • Annual regulatory report cards for agencies containing important information, such as their major current and planned rules, their cost, and more. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) introduced a bill last year to implement a version of this idea.
  • A Regulatory Reduction Commission to repeal outdated and harmful rules. I wrote about this idea here and here. The Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act would establish a COVID-focused version of this idea. It was sponsored last Congress by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rob Portman (R-OH).
  • Automatic sunsets for all new regulations. All regulations should automatically expire after 10 years unless Congress votes to reauthorize them. This will make it easier for obsolete rules to stop doing harm.
  • Publish a federal regulatory budget. Congress is required, at least in theory, to create an annual budget for government spending. It should be required to do the same for regulatory costs.

These reforms should apply to independent agencies as well as cabinet-level agencies. Independent agencies, which constitute roughly two thirds of all rulemaking agencies, are currently exempt from many transparency and rulemaking requirements that apply to other agencies. This is bad institutional design, and should be fixed.

For more ideas, see chapter one of Free to Prosper, CEI’s new agenda for Congress. The entire agenda is here.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

One sign that the worst of COVID is likely now past is that instead of disease and economic hardship, people got riled up over Mr. Potato’s manhood and the Dr. Seuss estate’s business decisions. Of course, this type of normalcy isn’t very healthy, either. Agencies issued new rules ranging from sleep aids to ship surveyors in Puerto Rico.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 60 final regulations last week, after 123 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 48 minutes.
  • With 559 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,372 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,327 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 47 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 87 the previous week.
  • With 317 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 1,887 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,149 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 428 notices last week, after 465 notices the previous week.
  • With 3,735 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 22,232 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,300 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 1,405 pages the previous week.
  • With 13,247 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 78.256 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published nine final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, with none in the last week. This is on pace for 54 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 80 new rules affect small businesses. Two are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

COVID-19 cases are finally in decline as vaccinations continue, to the point where there is reason for cautious optimism. Congress was busy with a stimulus bill, which will apparently not include a $15 minimum wage. Agencies issued new rules ranging from lumber education to satellite service.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 123 final regulations last week, after 37 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 22 minutes.
  • With 499 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 3,372 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,353 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 87 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 13 the previous week.
  • With 270 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 1,824 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,149 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 465 notices last week, after 384 notices the previous week.
  • With 3,307 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 22,345 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,405 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a four-day week, after 1,005 pages the previous week.
  • With 11,845 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 80,034 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published nine final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, with one in the last week. This is on pace for 60 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 73 new rules affect small businesses. Two are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

It was a four-day week due to Washington’s Birthday (see my colleague John Berlau’s recent book, George Washington, Entrepreneur). The Perseverance rover landed on Mars, assisted by the first helicopter to ever fly in Mars’ thin atmosphere. Back on Earth, a major snow storm hit the Midwest and caused power outages in Texas. At least one senator fled the country almost as quickly as he fled from his principles about four years ago. Agencies issued new rules ranging from pipeline reviews to arts penalties.

On to the data:

  • Agencies issued 37 final regulations last week, after 54 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every four hours and 33 minutes.
  • With 383 final regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 2,992 final regulations this year. 2020’s total was 3,353 final regulations.
  • Agencies issued 13 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, after 34 the previous week.
  • With 183 proposed regulations so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 1,430 proposed regulations this year. 2020’s total was 2,149 proposed regulations.
  • Agencies published 384 notices last week, after 374 notices the previous week.
  • With 2,842 notices so far in 2021, agencies are on pace to issue 22,203 notices this year. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,005 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 894 pages the previous week.
  • With 10,031 pages so far, the 2021 Federal Register is on pace for 80,711 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (subtracting skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. There are two such rules so far in 2021, none from the last week. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2021’s economically significant rules ranges from net savings of $100.7 million to net costs of $362.5 million. The 2020 figure ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact numbers depend on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published eight final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020, none in the last week. This is on pace for 63 significant rules in 2021. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, 22 new rules affect small businesses. Two are classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.