Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Regulatory Costs and Benefits

I'm a little confused here. Something called E&ENews noted: "The White House Office of Management and Budget on Friday evening released its annual report on the costs and benefits of federal regulations, showing that the benefits of major Obama-era rules far exceeded the costs."

Vox caught the release, and went on to do an extensive analysis here. It's all good and heart-warming for a retired bureaucrat who believes that regulations can do good. They do.

But--when Vox links to the report, the link goes to the E&ENews site and brings up the : "2017 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act".  I briefly looked and didn't find it on the OMB/whitehouse site, but it may be there, well-buried.

Googling for the title of the report brings up a Forbes piece, combating the Vox analysis in part.  I disagree with the thrust of the writer's analysis, which says that "final rules" should be considered in the analysis, as opposed to "major" rules.  It's a sad fact that the threshold for the major rule is obsolete, when one looks at its history (which I've done but don't remember writing up--someday maybe).  I seriously doubt that considering final rules would change the overall picture. He's on somewhat better ground to doubt how concrete the cost-benefit analyses submitted to OMB are.

Towards the end of the Forbes article there's a little discussion of the process of submitting this report to Congress--interesting for a nerd like me, but disconcerting for anyone who believes in simplistic pictures of how the government operates.

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