Jump, Jive an’ Reform Regulation

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Cost-benefit analysis has long been a centerpiece of regulatory reform proposals, with mixed success. Policymakers still largely don’t know the full benefits and costs of the regulatory enterprise. The January 2000 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Draft Report to Congress on the Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations is the latest attempt to survey the extent of the regulatory state, but has severe limitations both in execution and enthusiasm.

The cost-benefit analysis that Congress requires in OMB’s reports is informative, but it is not itself capable of bringing the largely unaccountable regulatory state congressional control. Instead, improved measures to enhance congressional accountability and cost disclosure matter most to any regulatory reform effort. Effective regulatory reform must make regulatory costs as transparent as possible through such tools as improved annual cost and trend reporting, and enact institutional reforms that allow voters to hold Congress responsible for the regulatory state by ensuring a congressional vote on major agency rules before they are effective. One such proposal is the Congressional Responsibility Act introduced by Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS). Rather than merely try to force resistant and unaccountable agencies and the OMB to report on regulatory benefits, Congress should internalize the need to demonstrate and maximize regulatory benefits.

Jump, Jive makes the following proposals aimed at improving Congress’s accountability and cost disclosure:

  • Halt Regulation Without Representation: Require Congress to Approve Agency Regulations
  • Publish an Annual Regulatory Report Card
  • Require that Agencies Calculate Costs, but not Benefits
  • Lower “Major Rule” Thresholds
  • Create New Categories of Major Rules
  • Explore Regulatory Cost Budgets
  • Publish Data on Economic and Health/Safety Regulations Separately
  • Disclose Transfer, Administrative and Procedural Regulatory Costs
  • Explicitly Note Indirect Regulatory Costs
  • Agencies and the OMB Must: (1) Recommend Rules to Eliminate and (2) Rank Rules’ Effectiveness
  • Create Benefit Yardsticks to Compare Agency Effectiveness
  • Reconsider Review and Sunsetting of New and Existing Regulations
  • Establish a Bipartisan Regulatory Reduction Commission to Survey Existing Rules