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Feb. 28, 2013

Public Citizen President to Congress: Regulatory Benefits Vastly Exceed Costs

Says Tougher Regulations and Enforcement Help Make a Stronger Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Regulation makes the country economically stronger and improves standards of living, Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said today in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

The benefits of regulations vastly exceed the costs, even when measured according to corporate-friendly criteria. In his testimony, Weissman explained that even by official conservative accounting standards, the benefits of major regulations over the past decade exceeded costs by a factor of more than two-to-one, and benefits may exceed costs by a factor of 14.

Weissman also testified that regulatory failure was significantly responsible for the 2008 financial crash, which has imposed far greater costs on the economy and cost far more jobs than regulations ever could.

Regulation “has tamed marketplace abuses and advanced the values we hold most dear: freedom, safety, security, justice, competition and sustainability,” Weissman said.

Efforts to roll back current rules or stop implementation of new regulations will heighten economic insecurity, permit corporations to rip off consumers, and needlessly expose Americans to dangerous products and dirty air, Weissman said.

Industry claims of oppressive regulatory burden are disproved by actual experience, Weissman testified. “While there is a long history of industry claiming that the next regulation under consideration would unreasonably raise the cost of doing business,” he said, “those claims routinely prove to be overblown,” he cited a range of examples from air bags to leaded gasoline, benzene emissions to smoke-free rules.

All is not well with the regulatory system, however, Weissman said, arguing that there is an acute need to strengthen and improve the system. “The country greatly needs reforms to toughen regulatory enforcement, increase criminal penalties for corporate wrongdoers, reduce industry influence over the rulemaking process, and address anti-competitive practices that injure small businesses, consumers and the national economy,” said Weissman.

To read Weissman’s testimony, visit http://www.citizen.org/documents/weissman-regulation-testimony-feb-2013.pdf.

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