A Way Forward on Regulatory Reform

Posted: Jun 01, 2014 12:45 PM

The need for regulatory reform is obvious to anyone paying attention. The size of the federal regulatory code has exploded in the last few decades, crippling the ability of businesses to form, grow, and succeed in the American economy.

The "how" question is a bit more difficult. Two Mercatus economists have set about attempting to answer that question.

Patrick McLaughlin and Richard Williams write:

Given the consequences of regulatory accumulation and the repeated failures of agency- and president-led attempts at reform, congressional action may be required to address this problem. A successful regulatory reform act will include most or all of the following characteristics:

1. The process should entail independent assessment of whether regulations are nonfunctional.
2. The process should ensure there is no special treatment of any group or stakeholder.
3. The process should use a standard method of assessment that is difficult to subvert.
4. Whatever the procedure for assessment, assessments of specific regulations or regulatory programs should focus on whether and how they lead to the outcomes desired.
5. Regulatory agencies should be recognized as another important stakeholder, with incentives to keep and increase regulation.
6. Congressional action—such as a joint resolution of disapproval—should be required in order to stop the recommendations, as opposed to a vote to enact or not enact.
7. The review process should repeat indefinitely.

Conservatives talk a lot in broad platitudes about the need for regulatory reform, but it's important to actually translate those principles into action.