Category Archives: regulation

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

It was another volatile pre-election week. A still-symptomatic President Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed hospital during prime time. More key staffers tested positive for COVID-19. In the vice-presidential debate, a fly that landed in Vice President Pence’s hair stole the show. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from auxiliary poultry provisions to water cannons.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 91 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 73 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 51 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,561 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,250 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 40 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,703 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,161 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 465 notices, for a total of 17,443 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,136 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,834 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,855 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 64,374 pages. It is on pace for 81,693 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts 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. Four such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.19 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 58 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 510 new rules affect small businesses; 21 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 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

President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis marked the first of what will likely be many October surprises. Congress agreed on one spending bill to avoid another shutdown, but remains deadlocked on a separate COVID-related spending bill. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from TikTok to boat engines.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 73 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 69 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 18 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,470 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,216 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 45 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,663 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,165 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 473 notices, for a total of 16,978 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,107 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,855 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,509 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 62,537 pages. It is on pace for 81,429 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts 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. Four such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.19 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 56 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 487 new rules affect small businesses; 20 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them deemed 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 deaths passed 200,000 in the United States, and are roughly 1 million worldwide. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing sparked a fresh Supreme Court battle. A grand jury declined to press murder charges against the Louisville police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, sparking unrest and reopening conversations about police reform. The 2020 Federal Register topped 60,000 pages. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from Cuban assets to shrimp trawlers.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 69 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 99 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 26 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,397 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,121 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 55 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,617 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,105 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 416 notices, for a total of 16,505 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 21,491 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,509 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 3,012 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 60,682 pages. It is on pace for 79,013 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts 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. Four such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.19 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 54 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 478 new rules affect small businesses; 20 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

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

Senators Introduce Regulatory Commission Bill

CEI’s approach to regulatory reform has an overarching theme: It is not enough to get rid of this or that harmful regulation. For the benefits to last, there must be system-level reform to the rulemaking process that keeps generating those rules. Institutions matter. One of the best of those institution-level reform ideas now has COVID-19-focused legislation at the ready: the independent regulatory reduction commission.

Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act (PPRRA). The House version was previously introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The bill would establish an independent commission to identify regulations harming the COVID-19 response, and compile a package for Congress to vote on.

Wayne Crews and I have a statement supporting the idea here.

The idea is not new. Former Sen. Phil Gramm introduced a version of the idea back in the 1980s. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commissions that closed unneeded military bases had four rounds in the 1990s, and saved billions of dollars. CEI has been promoting the idea for more than a decade, most recently in a Washington Examiner op-ed and  #NeverNeeded paper. Several other legislative versions of the regulatory BRAC commission have been introduced by lawmakers from both parties.

The time to act is now. If House and Senate leadership, not wanting to make any waves before the election, do not act, then the PPRRA should be reintroduced in the next Congress, and on and on until it passes. Regulatory reform is a long game, but with people hurting from COVID-19 and a tough recovery ahead, this is an idea that Congress should act on now.

CEI Experts Applaud Sens. Lankford, Johnson, and Portman for Independent Regulatory Commission Legislation

This is a press statement originally posted at cei.org.

On Thursday, Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act. The House version was previously introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The bill would establish an independent commission to identify regulations harming the COVID-19 response, and compile a package for Congress to vote on.

Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Ryan Young thinks the commission is a good idea:

“If a regulation isn’t helping now during a pandemic, it was probably never needed in the first place. Agencies have already loosened rules for telemedicine, fast-tracked COVID treatment approval, and remote education. But the Code of Federal Regulations is still 185,000 pages long. How many of those rules are still harming the COVID-19 response? How many might make the country less resilient against the next crisis? A dedicated commission like the one in the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act is a good way to find out.

“If leadership doesn’t see fit to hold a vote on the PPRRA this session, COVID-19 will still be around when the next Congress convenes in January. If necessary, the bill should be reintroduced and voted on then.”

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews said:

“The Congress has passed several Covid-19 relief packages and is contemplating more spending stimulus at this very moment. Missing from that body’s concrete actions in the coronavirus crisis has been powerful deregulatory stimulus, that is, easing or removing unnecessary rules and regulations that can both impede response to the pandemic and restrict smooth and energetic economic recovery from it.

“Federal agencies and the administration have implemented numerous waivers and suspensions with respect to the crisis as well as some explicit moves to streamline regulation and treat those subject to rules more fairly, an example of that being Trump’s executive order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recover. But the executive branch is not America’s lawmaking body, and many of the steps taken need to be permanent rather than transitory. That is just the beginning; there remains a great deal more relief-oriented foundational streamlining of the Code of Federal Regulations’ content possible that utterly depends upon the intense attention of Congress to come to fruition.

“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 new 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

Scientists may have found potential chemical evidence of life on Venus—phosphine gas, which in Venusian conditions may well have been produced by anaerobic (non-oxygen-using) microbes. No life forms have been directly observed, and phosphine is also present in the atmospheres of lifeless Jupiter and Saturn, but that is still a pretty big deal. In more earthly realms, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from watermelon promotion to natural gas emissions.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 99 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 31 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 42 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,328 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,198 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 55 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,568 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,154 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 449 notices, for a total of 16,089 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,100 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 3,012 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,112 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 59,172 pages. It is on pace for 81,280 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts 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. Four such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.19 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 54 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 462 new rules affect small businesses; 20 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 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 work week due to Labor Day. There were massive fires along the West coast, and Congress declined to pass a $500 billion spending bill because it was thought to be too small. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from domestic hemp production to Pyongyang flyovers.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 31 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 69 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every five hours and 25 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,229 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,148 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 30 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,513 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,137 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 336 notices, for a total of 15,640 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,090 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,112 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,713 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 56,470 pages. It is on pace for 79,760 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts 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. Three such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.38 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 50 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 447 new rules affect small businesses; 19 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 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

As Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer, the unemployment rate went back down to 8.4 percent, and Attorney General Barr announced that the Justice Department will likely file an antitrust lawsuit against Google by the end of the month. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from relaxed DNA tolerance to semipostal stamps.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 69 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 68 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 26 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,198 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,176 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 39 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,483 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,143 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 474 notices, for a total of 15,304 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,116 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,713 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,618 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 55,323 pages. It is on pace for 79,947 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts 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. Three such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.38 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 49 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 439 new rules affect small businesses; 18 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

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

Wearing Masks Is Good. But Mask Mandates Backfire

Steve Horwitz and Don Boudreaux recently joined forces for an excellent op-ed on mask mandates. They make some excellent points, including one highly relevant to the debate over police reform:

“By creating more opportunities for encounters between law enforcement and the citizenry, mask mandates create yet one more way for authorities to harass the relatively powerless. We’ve already seen that mandates are disproportionately enforced against people and communities of color.”

They also make solid points about bottom-up social norms versus top-down mandates. The whole piece is worth reading. But many people don’t seem to realize that there are effective ways to encourage good behavior without mandating it. Governance doesn’t always require government. In many case, governance is more effective without government. Wearing masks in public when there is a pandemic on is one of those things.

The alternative to mandates is social pressure. Don’t patronize stores that don’t enforce mask requirements, and let them now why. Give good publicity and your business to stores that do require masks. Don’t socialize in person with anti-maskers or let them into your home, and let them know why. Anti-maskers are the butts of jokes all over tv and the Internet. Let’s keep all that up.

The trouble is that social norms have shortcomings. They aren’t perfect, which is why some people favor mandates in addition to social norm enforcement.

After all, some people value their anti-masker in-group identity more than they value the approval of their friends, family, and community. Other people are just thoughtless of others. That does not mean, therefore mandates. It’s not as though such people are respecting mandates anyway.

Another important point is to think about mandates at the margin, the way an economist does. What additional impact would a mandate, on top of what people are already doing? How does this compare to the additional costs a mandate would impose, such as more police encounters?

Most people who wear masks in public will do so with or without a mandate. I don’t even know if my city has a mandate, and I don’t care. I wear a mask in public because I don’t want myself or anyone I care about to get sick. Most people are the same way. And it’s not like mandates convince anti-maskers see the error of their ways. They’re digging in. Mandates have near-zero marginal impact.

Finally, there is what Harold Demsetz called the Nirvana Fallacy—comparing the real world against a perfect theoretical model. With masks, the relevant comparison is not social pressure versus mandates as we *would like* them to work. It is social pressure versus mandates as they *actually do* work. Compare real with real, not real with ideal. If the only feasible choices are between bad and worse, choose bad. And let’s help people to be better.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The spring 2020 Unified Agenda was published on August 17. Due four months ago, it collects every rulemaking agency’s plans for upcoming regulations. The fall 2020 edition is due in October, and this analyst is skeptical that it will appear on time. The number of new rules this year surpassed 2,000 last week. The 2020 Federal Register surpassed 50,000 pages, and is on pace to exceed last year’s edition by more than 12 percent. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from cooking with energy to contact lens prescriptions.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 78 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 51 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and nine minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,061 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,161 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 24 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,380 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,169 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 392 notices, for a total of 13,911 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 21,117 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 2,082 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,863 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 52,024 pages. It is on pace for 79,792 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts 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. Three such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.38 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 46 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 411 new rules affect small businesses; 18 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

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