Regulation Inflation

Dec 14, 2011

The conversation on regulatory reform continues today in the Wall Street Journal, where an editorial makes a strong case that the administration is perpetuating an environment where the number of costly regulations go up and businesses get wrapped in more red tape with the end result being a lackluster economy.

The Journal points to research from George Mason University's Mercatus Center that found this administration finalized 84 "economically significant" (costing over $100 million) regulations annually over its first two years. Under President George W. Bush it was 62; under President Clinton, 56.

They also include a chart showing "the number of economically significant rules in the prerule, proposed, or final stages, published each fall and spring in the federal Unified Agenda." It's not a perfect number, but it's an indicator that the number of uncertainty-causing regulations is going up and up.

The Journal notes that when administration officials talk about how they're so much better on the regulatory front than previous administrations, they forget to mention the torrent of proposed rules coming from independent agencies. They omit "for example, some 259 rules mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reregulation law along with its 188 other rule suggestions." And let's not forget the "undefined and discretionary future rules that are convulsing health care or the EPA's industrial planning in energy."

Both the Regulatory Accountability Act and the REINS Act that passed the House of Representatives would do a lot to tame regulators, make them more accountable, and get them to issue and review rules that are designed to fix problems instead of harming job creators.

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