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Why not ask how regulations can benefit the economy?

Yesterday, the House began its Week of Regulatin’ Hatin’ with a Rules Committee discussion of a proposed rule that would require 10 committees to consider the economic and job-growth effects of regulations issued by the agencies that are under their jurisdiction. That sounds pretty straightforward for a reason: committees already do that. It’s obvious that a committee with jurisdiction over an agency will exercise oversight on that agency, and agencies already take into account all sorts of economic considerations, including paying particular attention to the effects of regulations on small businesses.

More upsetting than the redundancy and waste of time that this represents is the one-sided language contained in the rule. Not content to just order committees to do what they already do, the rule hits the business talking points that we’re all familiar with by now.

For example, the rule states that “In completing the review and inventory described in the first section of this resolution, each committee shall identify regulations, executive and agency orders, and other administrative actions or procedures that

  1. impede private-sector job creation;
  2. discourage innovation and entrepreneurial activity;
  3. hurt economic growth and investment;
  4. harm the Nation’s global competitiveness;
  5. limit access to credit and capital;
  6. fail to utilize or apply accurate cost-benefit analyses;
  7. create additional economic uncertainty;
  8. are promulgated in such a way as to limit transparency and the opportunity for public comment, particularly by affected parties;
  9. lack specific statutory authorization;
  10. undermine labor-management relations;
  11. result in large-scale unfunded mandates on employers without due cause; or
  12. impose undue paperwork and cost burdens on small businesses.”

That’s nice, but it of course allows for no real analysis and in fact would prevent committees from considering all of the positive effects of regulations–like preventing tainted food and toys, protecting consumers from abusive lending practice, and keeping our air and water clean. It would also prevent consideration of the yearly OMB reports that find that the benefits of regulations outweigh the costs by 2:1 to 14:1.

So modifying the one-sided language of the rule, we’d suggest reviewing whether regulations

  1. stimulate private-sector job creation;
  2. have lead to innovation and entrepreneurial activity;
  3. spur economic growth and investment;
  4. strengthen the Nation’s global competitiveness;
  5. increase access to credit and capital;
  6. produce benefits that exceed their costs;
  7. reduce economic uncertainty;
  8. are promulgated in such a way that public comment is solicited, considered, and discussed;
  9. are hindered by duplicative or arbitrary procedural requirements;
  10. ensure safe workplaces and fair treatment of employees;
  11. result in compliance costs that are significantly lower than those forecast by industry; and
  12. treat small businesses fairly while also ensuring that the regulation’s purpose is not defeated by excluding regulated parties from compliance.

We expect that there would be plenty of material for committees to consider. Just a couple examples:

How many jobs have been created to meet compliance requirements? How much economic growth and investment has occurred to meet compliance requirements? For example, restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions has led to the development of emissions-control systems for power plants. A recent BusinessWeek article estimated that the market for these systems would be between $10 billion to $12 billion.

How does the promulgation of regulations increase economic certainty? During recent outbreaks of contaminated food and toxic children’s products, farmers and manufacturers urged the development of strong standards that would ease customers’ worries about purchasing safe products.

Indeed, if House Republicans were serious about this inquiry, they would discover that although regulations might cost their donors, they benefit their voters.