CEI’s President Makes the Case to Tame Regulatory Beast

Contact for interviews: Richard Morrison, 202-331-2273

Washington, D.C., July 22, 2003—Today the House Committee on Government Reform will hear testimony from Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred L. Smith, Jr. on proposals to tame the usually unaccountable beast of federal regulation.  Smith and others will give analysis of the Paperwork and Regulatory Improvements Act of 2003, a bill aimed at making regulators more accountable and the costs of their actions more transparent.

“Although federal fiscal discipline is far from perfect, federal regulatory discipline is practically non-existent,” says Smith.  “Consequently, regulation has long been the preferred tool of both special interests seeking to manipulate public policy for competitive advantage and ideological groups pursuing their particular visions of the public interest.  While the Paperwork and Regulatory Improvements Act is by no means a cure for the defects of the regulatory process, it is a positive step.”

The costs that federal regulations impose on Americans now reach hundreds of billions of dollars each year.  In the 2003 edition of his annual report Ten Thousand Commandments, former CEI and current Cato Institute analyst Wayne Crews calculates the total cost of regulation at $860 billion—more than the pre-tax profits of all U.S. corporations combined.  Part of the reason for the staggering costs is the way regulations are enacted: by un-elected departmental bureaucrats rather than the members of Congress who have to face the electorate.

“The current regulatory process suffers from a system of ‘regulation without representation,’” explains Smith.  “Congress passes and the President signs into law broad regulatory statutes, but it’s the non-elected bureaucrats who have the tasks of not only developing and proposing the implementing rules, but also of enacting those rules.  Legislators largely escape responsibility—they only passed the law, not the regulation.  Consumers and taxpayers—those who ultimately bear the costs and reap the benefits of regulation—cannot readily reward or punish anyone at the ballot box for good or bad regulatory decisions.”

Today’s hearing is being held at 2 p.m. in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.