Obama’s Deregulation Initiative Falls Short of Substantive Reform

Washington, D.C., August 24, 2011—President Obama announced that independent agencies will wipe as many as 500 rules from the books in the coming months. Businesses and consumers could save as much as $10 billion over the next five years. CEI policy experts Iain Murray, Wayne Crews, and Ryan Young believe much more needs to be done.

Iain Murray, Vice President for Strategy and author of Stealing You Blind: “If the administration wanted to stimulate the economy and get Americans back to work, reducing the $1.7 trillion regulatory burden is the most cost-effective way to do it. The fact that they are only able to find $2 billion of annual regulatory savings shows just how addicted the administration is to regulating.”

Wayne Crews, Vice President for Policy: “The country’s wealth creators need a sweeping review and purge of regulations. Instead, they’re getting executive orders, words, and half-measures that add up to little. The administration also can’t be allowed to exaggerate regulatory benefits as it prepares to escalate cripplingly costly rules covering ‘net neutrality,’ coal plant emissions, financial services, and health care on a limping economy.

“Ejecting the role of the competitive market in discipline and substituting command and control is improper, opportunistic, and the opposite of sound ‘regulation.’ Out of over 3,500 rules finalized in 2010, OMB reviewed just 66—and of those, it only did benefit calculations for 20. In reality, we know very little about the regulatory state. We cannot speak conclusively about benefits—which it is Congress’ job to assess in the first place.”

Ryan Young, Fellow in Regulatory Studies: “For every thousand dollars that businesses and consumers spend to comply with regulations, this executive order will save them about one. Better than nothing, yes. But let’s not call this real reform. An independent commission should be going through the books, not the agencies themselves. And they should do it every year. Agencies have no incentive to rein in their own size and scope, hence the token cuts and tiny savings. An independent commission does not share that incentive problem. At over 165,000 pages, there is much to trim from the Code of Federal Regulations. Let’s get to it.”