Biden’s ‘Modernizing Regulatory Review’ Executive Order Will Undermine Review

President Biden yesterday issued an “Executive Order on Modernizing Regulatory Review,” by which “modernizing” apparently means undermining transparency and disclosure and pushing a radical progressive agenda.

CEI Fred L. Smith, Jr. Fellow in Regulatory Studies Wayne Crews points to specific problems with the new E.O.:

“Biden’s executive order furthers the progressive goal of removing what government does from cost-benefit scrutiny and from congressional oversight, replacing the notion that regulation imposes costs and hardships on people with unsubstantiated claims that regulation is a net benefit.”

Crews points to specific concerns:

  • The universe of “significant regulatory actions” that warrant review is being decreased. Instead of a rule costing $100 million annually being deemed significant, the threshold goes to $200 million (and gets adjusted by OIRA itself with GDP changes). This is a problematic for at least two reasons: 1) already nearly all regulatory action not deemed significant is escaping actual critical review; and 2) the number of significant actions (by the traditional measure of $100 million) undertaken by Biden that impact small business and state and local governments appears to be on the upswing.
  • While ratcheting review downward on cost thresholds, the E.O. increases scrutiny in favor of political priorities, deeming rules significant for “policy issues for which centralized review would meaningfully further the President’s priorities.”
  • Biden’s E.O. proposes a rewrite of the Office of Management and Budget’s “Circular A-4” so that, instead of providing guidance on the conduct of strict regulatory review and analysis (and instruction on preparing “regulatory impact analyses”), it will make it easier to redefine regulatory costs as benefits.
  • “Equity” is being built into the regulatory review process—and rulemaking itself—in a way to expand government. And “equity” now bears little resemblance to the prior notions of “equality of opportunity”; it means institutionalizing identity politics in the regulatory process and wealth transfers that progressives want.

More from CEI: