Contrary to my earlier prediction, the number of new regulations this year did not pass 2,000 last week, ending the four-day week at 1,991. Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian spared Alabama despite fears to the contrary. Brexit drama reached a fever pitch in the UK, the Chinese government signaled a willingness to resume trade talks, and state attorneys general launched an antitrust investigation of Facebook. Rulemaking agencies published new regulations ranging from patent priorities to general service lamps.
Early in the Trump administration, a series of executive orders slowed the growth of new regulations and removed some existing rules. From the start of the administration through June 30, 2019, the total savings from these policies are an estimated $46.5 billion, according to a new study by David G. Tuerck and William Burke for the National Foundation for American Policy.
A humorous diplomatic row over Greenland was not the only news of the week, with China tariffs, divisive rhetoric, and recession fears also putting in appearances. Rulemaking agencies published new regulations ranging from Death Valley airstrips to Lipochitooligosaccharide.
Last week was the Federal Register’s busiest of the year, with its 3,075 pages almost tripling a normal week’s count. A new economically significant regulation targeting immigrants also pushes the compliance costs of this year’s new economically significant regulations above 2018’s total, with more than three months to go. Rulemaking agencies published new regulations ranging from Wisconsin landfill R&D permits to modernizing children’s television.
Rumblings of a “Navarro recession” are growing louder, and the 2019 Federal Register will likely crack the 40,000-page mark early this week. Rulemaking agencies published new regulations ranging from rebranding the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to Autographa californica.
Can the regulation of new technology be voluntary and non-coercive? In a recent op-ed for The Hill, Mercatus Center law and technology analyst Jennifer Huddleston argues that manifestations of “soft law” can be superior to the hard requirements of statutes and binding federal regulations.
Guidance documents are statements of policy issued by your favorite alphabet soup of agencies, which more often than not translate into law, despite rarely going through the notice-and-public comment period required of most regulations. Wayne Crews’ study “A Partial Eclipse of the Administrative State” puts the number of guidance documents—just one form of “regulatory dark matter”—at more than 13,000 over the period 2008-2017.
In a pre-recess Parthian shot, the Senate passed a massive new spending bill that would increase federal spending by $320 billion over two years and delay the next debt ceiling vote until after the next election. Within hours of the Senate’s adjournment, President Trump also announced a new round of tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.
At a time of trillion dollar runaway peacetime deficits, big-spenders can take smug comfort knowing that regulation is even less disciplined, especially where ostensibly sub-regulatory guidance documents, notices, bulletins, circulars, interpretations and the like are concerned.