Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Paper Out Today: Terrible Tech 2.0

My colleagues Jessica Melugin, Wayne Crews, Iain Murray, Patrick Hedger, John Berlau, and I have a new paper out today, Terrible Tech 2.0: The Most Burdensome, Anti-Consumer Technology Policy Proposals in Washington. We examine 25 of the worst tech-related bills and policies to come out of Washington in the last two years.

The full paper is here.

A press release summarizing the main findings is here.

My quote from the press release:

“Technology has been an essential part of the COVID-19 response,” said senior fellow Ryan Young. “New technologies have made a difficult lockdown easier by enabling contactless grocery deliveries, remote work and school, telemedicine, kept friends and family connected, and even provided some levity with streaming media like Tiger King. The tech regulations we examine in our paper would hurt the COVID-19 response. They would lock in existing technologies and block new ones, make it harder for people to find work, give established big companies an unfair advantage over startups, censor political speech, and put politics over people—not to mention their health.”

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The last week saw another political convention, another police shooting, and two hurricanes. There was at least one major positive story, though. Polio has finally been eradicated from Africa, one of the last places on Earth where people were still suffering from it. It now exists only in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from respirators to orbital debris.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 68 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 78 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 28 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,129 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,168 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 65 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,445 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 468 notices, for a total of 14,830 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,068 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,618 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,082 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 53,644 pages. It is on pace for 79,828 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 48 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 427 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.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Kamala Harris was announced as the Democratic dvice-presidential candidate, a massive storm swept through the Midwest, and Congress is out of session until September. The number of new final regulations is also set to pass 2,000 this week. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from powerline vegetation to risky plywood.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 51 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, same as the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 18 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 1,982 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 30 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,356 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 21,011 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,863 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,476 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 49,939 pages. It is on pace for 79,018 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 43 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 388 new rules affect small businesses; 17 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.

New CEI Video: Eliminating Never Needed Regulations to Help with Recovery

In a new CEI video, Kent Lassman talks about three things agencies can do rein in regulations that are hindering the COVID-19 response and making economic recovery even harder. Congress should establish an independent regulatory reduction commission. Agencies should go over their own rules and policies and prune them. And new rules should have automatic sunsets

On their own, members of Congress have neither the incentive nor the ability to thoroughly trim regulations. So, they should do what they did the last time they hit an impasse like this—establish an independent commission. When the Cold War ended and the military needed fewer bases, no one representative would vote to close the one in his or her district, even if the base’s resources would do more good if used differently, because they didn’t want to face the political backlash.

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission solved the problem. It studied the situation and sent Congress a plan for which bases to keep and which to shrink or close. This was then put to an up-or-down vote, without possibility for amendment. The streamlining of the military worked. Individual members of Congress could avoid blame for specific base closures. And voters understood that if their base was affected by BRAC, it was a fair decision made for a good reason. Four rounds of BRAC saved billions of dollars.

We should do something similar for regulation. In fact, the idea has been around since the early 1980s, when Sen. Phil Gramm proposed a version of it. After other occasional proposals from both parties, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has just proposed her version of a regulatory BRAC. It’s a good idea, and it’s being taken seriously. With regulations harming the coronavirus response and the economy, now is the time to act on it.

Agencies should also so their own housework. Executive orders from President Trump have required agencies to get rid of two old rules for each new rule they enact; publish guidance documents in a single, searchable place in order to fight against the problem of regulatory “dark matter;” and most recently, to encourage agencies to use their emergency powers to wave rules that are getting in the way of an effective COVID response.

Finally, new regulations should have automatic sunsets. Just as cartons of milk have an expiration date, so should regulations. Times change; regulations often don’t. This rule would give agencies an incentive to periodically revisit and modernize their rules. Letting obsolete or harmful ones go is as simple as doing nothing; this is a fitting setup for a Congress that is rarely brave enough to take a stand on anything.

Please share the video on social media. For more on these proposals, see my recent paper “How to Make Sure Reformed #NeverNeeded Regulations Stay That Way.” More ideas are at neverneeded.cei.org.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

August’s 2020 disaster list so far includes a massive warehouse explosion in Beirut that killed more than 100 people and Hurricane Isaias. In positive news, Congress is out on its August recess, but could reconvene once the next COVID spending bill is negotiated. Bob and Doug, who in June became world social distancing champions by piloting SpaceX’s Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station, returned safely to Earth. They may well wish their trip had lasted longer. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from patent fees to squid specifications.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 51 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 54 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 18 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 1,931 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,160 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 41 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,326 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,169 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,167 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 444 notices, for a total of 13,159 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 21,502 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,467 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,473 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 48,072 pages. It is on pace for 78,550 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 41 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 380 new rules affect small businesses; 15 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.

It’s Good to Think Long-Term

From Kindle location 710 of Adam Thierer’s excellent 2020 book Evasive Entrepreneurs and the Future of Governance: How Innovation Improves Economies and Governments:

If the primary indictment of technological innovation is that it has inundated us with too much information or too many options, those are good problems compared with the more serious problems our ancestors faced.

You can read about some of those problems in Fernand Braudel’s The Structures of Everyday Life or William Manchester’s evocatively titled A World Lit Only by Fire.  Today’s political debates would improve if more people had that larger historical arc in the back of their minds.

In the News: Antitrust Hearings

Young Voices’ Casey Givens quotes me on the antitrust hearings in an otherwise-excellent Washington Times op-ed:

Rep. Cicilline was perhaps the worst offender on the former point. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ryan Young points out, the congressman claimed that “Amazon controls 70 percent of ‘online marketplaces,’” when in fact that is, “equivalent to about 4 or 5 percent of retail sales.” The congressman also made some questionable claims about Google’s market share, conflating its search engine with all searches on the internet.

Read the whole thing here.

In the News – Canadian Tariffs

Thomas Howell, Jr. from The Washington Times quotes me in a story about President Trump’s reinstatement of 10 percent aluminum tariffs against Canada:

“The timing is just terrible. The USMCA trade agreement is barely a month old, the economy is fresh off the worst quarter in American history, and here comes a tax increase on something everyone uses. It makes no sense politically, let alone economically,” said Ryan Young, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

On the Radio – GDP and Economic Recovery

Earlier this week I appeared on Paul Molloy’s radio down in Florida. We talked about the second-quarter GDP crash, why it was 9.5 percent or 7 percent instead of 32.9 percent, why it was still the worst in U.S. history, and how people can get out of it while staying safe from COVID-19.

The 15-minute-ish segment is online and starts at about 10:40 into this hour-long block.

On the Radio – COVID-19 and Economic Recovery

Tomorrow morning (August 9), I’ll be on the Bab Zadek show from 8:00-9:00 PT (that’s 10-12 CT and 11-12 ET) for the whole hour. It airs on most of the West Coast, and live online here.