News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con: Will regulatory-review plan boost jobs?

Yes, the Obama administration's regulatory-reform proposals will help spur private-sector job growth by identifying the regulations that fail to protect American families and then reforming or removing them. The proposal, spelled out in Executive Order 13563, reaffirms the principle, established in the Reagan administration, that enacted regulations should have benefits that exceed their costs. Where the order breaks from tradition is the requirement that agencies routinely revisit the measurement of costs and benefits of existing regulations and identify the least costly ways to achieve a regulation's goals. It then requires agencies to amend their regulations. Of course, the executive order is not perfect. The evaluations are currently performed by the agencies that write the regulations. A next step might be to consider shifting to a system of independent evaluations. Still, the Obama administration has taken vital steps in reforming our system of regulation. — Michael Greenstone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

It appears in the early going that the Obama administration's executive order requiring a review of existing regulations "that are out-of-date, unnecessary, excessively burdensome or in conflict with other rules" has encouraged some regulatory agencies to make recommendations that will save businesses time, money, headaches and resources. But more must be done. That's because the order exempts from review the huge flow of regulations in the pipeline generated by the health care and financial reform laws, as well as the large number of major rules generated by the Environmental Protection Agency over the past two years. This enormous onslaught of new regulations could well cost hundreds of billions of dollars, hamper our recovery, undermine our competitiveness and cost jobs. The regulations are being promulgated under the same system that generated the ones the administration found necessary to review. And the "look back" plans do not appear to fix this problem. — Evan Bayh and Andrew Card