Reviving Real Regulatory Reform

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Washington, D.C., March 24, 2005—Congress and the President, now more than ever, need to act to reform the federal regulatory process, and a new study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute explores several remedies. In “Reviving Regulatory Reform: Options for the President and Congress,” CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis, Jr. describes over a dozen ways to make federal regulation more effective, affordable, and accountable.

The report reviews the recent history of regulatory reform and draws lessons for today’s policymakers. It finds that most reforms fall into two categories: policing reforms (procedural limits on the regulators themselves) and checks-and-balances reforms (which increase congressional responsibility for regulation, create inter-agency competition, or foster competition between regulators and outside experts). Both types will be needed to rein in the regulatory state.

Regulatory costs are large, growing, and, what is more disturbing, uncontrolled,” writes Lewis. “Federal fiscal discipline is indeed weak, but federal regulatory discipline is practically non-existent. Many regulations function as implicit taxes, with far-reaching effects on consumer prices, employment, and innovation.”

Recommended options for reform include: requiring the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to hold a contest, open to the public and agencies alike, to pick the best analysis of each major regulatory proposal; establishing a Congressional Regulatory Office; requiring congressional approval before new rules can go into effect; and exploring the feasibility of  “regulatory budgets” to limit the costs regulations could impose.