After another busy week for agencies, the 2020 Federal Register is on pace to be 79,121 pages. None of those pages include the Spring 2020 Unified Agenda, which was supposed to have been published in April. Even so, this year’s Federal Register would be more than a 10 percent increase over last year. It would also be the Trump administration’s longest Federal Register by more than 8,000 pages and would exceed three of the Obama administration’s eight yearly totals. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to beryllium work areas.
On to the data:
- Last week, 71 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 93 the previous week.
- That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 22 minutes.
- Federal agencies have issued 1,732 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,138 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
- There were also 41 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,197 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,168 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,191 proposed regulations.
- Last week, agencies published 472 notices, for a total of 12,195 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,036 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
- Last week, 1,773 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,815 pages the previous week.
- The 2020 Federal Register totals 43,679 pages. It is on pace for 79,129 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 35 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
- So far in 2020, 331 new rules affect small businesses; 12 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.
Bloomberg’s Ana Monteiro was kind enough to quote from my tariff relief paper in a recent piece:
While some duties have been relaxed to help with importing inputs needed for the coronavirus response, repealing tariffs related to health care altogether is something that Ryan Young, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a July 8 paper said would have the immediate benefit of lowering costs for equipment and medical treatments. He argued that removing all duties imposed since 2017 would “aid economic recovery by reducing businesses’ supply costs,” and provide them some regulatory certainty.
The CEI’s Young also called for tariff-making authority to be moved back to Congress. That would mean repealing:
Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows for tariffs without a vote by Congress if imports are deemed a national-security threat;
Sections 201 of the 1974 Trade Act, which gives the president authority to impose trade restrictions;
Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, which President Donald Trump has used to impose tariffs on French and Chinese goods.
Read the whole article here. The paper is here.
It’s not often that phrases such as “institution-level reforms” and “never needed” appear in state-run media at all, let alone favorably. I am pleased this happened in a recent article on trade policy in Canada’s CBC:
In a report issued Wednesday, the U.S.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, urged the Trump administration to get rid of all tariffs.
“Tariff reform should have been a priority before the coronavirus hit, but now it’s even more urgent to lift trade barriers, in particular for health care supplies and treatments,” said Ryan Young, CEI senior fellow and author of the report, in a statement.
“Tariffs were never needed in the first place, and they are causing harm during a potentially Depression-level economy. The time to act is now.”
Among other things, the report calls on Congress to “make big-picture, institution-level reforms to U.S. trade policy” — including the repeal of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and Sections 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 — to “restore tax authority to the legislature and make trade policy less subject to presidential whim.”
CEI is misidentified as conservative rather than liberal, in the correct sense of the word. But there are bigger battles to fight. The full article is here; my recent paper on tariff relief is here.
Reason‘s Eric Boehm was kind enough to draw on my recent paper on tariff reform in a piece urging the inclusion of tariff relief in the next coronavirus stimulus bill. The article is here; the paper is here.
I recently appeared on the John Locke Foundation’s HeadLocke podcast via Zoom to talk about regulatory reform and CEI’s #NeverNeeded campaign.. The video is now on YouTube. Astute viewers will notice my cat Bella putting in a cameo around the 4:00-4:30 mark.
There are lots of good regulatory reform ideas out there. The ideas with the most staying power share a common theme. They don’t just treat this or that rule. They treat the larger rulemaking system that keeps churning out those harmful rules. With a tough economic recovery ahead once masks, prudence, and treatments defeat COVID-19, now is a good time to implement them.
In a recent paper, I outlined two institution-level reform ideas: an independent Regulatory Reduction Commission, and automatic sunsets for all new rules. For those who don’t have time for the paper-length version, there is now an op-ed version, courtesy of Inside Sources. It concludes:
Dealing with COVID-19’s health and economic effects are the two top political priorities right now. Nothing else even comes close. As policymakers find and eliminate never-needed regulations that are blocking recovery, they must also reform the system that made those rules possible in the first place.
If left untreated, that regulatory sludge will build back up, and stifle the next emergency response in ways no one can predict today. Repeal is not enough.
We also need resilience.
The whole piece is here. The original paper is here. For more regulatory reform resources, see neverneeded.cei.org.
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.
This morning’s CEI Zoom event is now on YouTube. Following remarks by OIRA head Paul Ray, Kent Lassman, Wayne Crews, and I discuss regulatory reforms and Wayne’s new Ten Thousand Commandments report. Excerpts from the event are viewable here.
Pierre Lemieux, in the cover story of the new Summer 2020 issue of the Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine, draws from the new 2020 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments to estimate the Trump administration’s net impact on regulation:
Trump’s Executive Order 13771, signed January 30, 2017, mandated the elimination of two existing rules (or formal regulations) for any new one implemented. The latest edition of regulatory analyst Clyde Wayne Crews’s annual report Ten Thousand Commandments notes that this goal was more than achieved over the first three years of the Trump administration. However, Crews adds, last year showed a notable loss of momentum as there were more regulatory actions than deregulatory actions in the pipeline at the end of 2019.
Figure 5, which gives the number of pages in the CFR [Code of Federal Regulations] over time, suggests that the Trump administration has roughly capped the total volume of federal regulations at, or slightly over, the 185,000 pages they comprised at the end of the Obama presidency. According to this measure, the Trump administration stopped the growth of regulation, but it did not deregulate. Ryan Young, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and colleague of Crews, summarizes the situation:
President Trump’s first three years of regulation are mixed. He deregulated in some areas and added new burdens in others. Transparency problems and poor data quality from agencies make it impossible to tell for certain if Trump has been a net deregulator. The most likely verdict is that he has slowed regulatory growth but has not cut regulation on net.
The whole article is excellent. Pierre gives a superb summary of the last three years of economic policy. Wayne Crews’s Ten Thousand Commandments study is here. Wayne and I offer an op-ed length summary of the report here.
On Monday, June 22 at 11:00 ET, CEI is holding a Zoom event on regulatory reform with Paul Ray, who heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs inside the Office of Management and Budget. That’s the agency most directly involved in monitoring the federal regulatory state.
Also speaking at the event are CEI president Kent Lassman, vice president for policy Wayne Crews, and me.
Registration is here. Afterwards, the event will be posted to YouTube. I’ll post a link when it’s up.