A blueprint for regulatory reform

Tom Donohue Apr. 3, 2011, 6:10am

To ensure a more robust recovery, create jobs, and set the stage for long-term growth, we must make our flawed regulatory system smarter, less intrusive, and more accountable.

The regulatory state has grown to gargantuan proportions. At the federal level alone, regulations already fill 150,000 pages of fine-print text. They cost Americans $1.7 trillion a year, choke economic growth and entrepreneurship, and disproportionately impact small businesses.

Just as each branch of government acts as a check and balance on the others when it comes to legislation, the same should hold true for regulations. We can achieve that with a few sensible reforms.

Congress. Congress should wrestle back some of the authority it has ceded to federal agencies by enacting the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011, which would guarantee an up-ordown vote, with no Senate filibuster, on regulations with an economic impact of more than $100 million.

Executive Branch. Cost-benefit estimates and science reviews required for major rules should be conducted by an independent third party, not agency staff. This would be an important check and balance on agency power and would improve regulatory quality.

Judiciary. Citizens should have the judicial access and tools they need to hold federal agencies accountable for limiting regulatory burdens and for using sound evidence to support proposed rules. With appropriate access to the courts, citizens can help enforce transparency, check bureaucratic power, and hold governmental decision makers accountable.

Americans of all ideological stripes, Democrat and Republican, recognize that a flawed regulatory system is stifling job creation, holding back our economy, and undermining good governance. They recognize that delegating massive power to an opaque and often unaccountable bureaucracy, no matter how good its intentions, is contrary to our most basic political norms and values.

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