Cato Handbook for Congress: Policy Recommendations for the 106th Congress

By Edward H. Crane; David Boaz | Go to book overview

36.
Regulatory Reform: No Silver Bullet
Congress should
complete the economic deregulation agenda,
focus on substantive regulatory legislation,
evaluate proposed regulations against a broad range of standards in addition to the benefit/cost standard,
broaden the guarantee of just compensation to all property owners who are mandated to provide a public benefit, and
approve an omnibus regulatory reform act and a congressional Office of Regulatory Analysis only if Congress reasserts its authority to approve all final rules.

Federal regulations now impose on the private sector direct compliance costs of about $500 billion a year. This is an average cost of about $5,000 per private-sector employee, with relatively higher costs per employee in the manufacturing sector and in smaller firms.

The cost of federal regulation has been a relatively stable share of gross domestic product in recent years, but the apparent stability masks two contrary trends: Federal economic regulation has been declining for about 20 years, with substantial deregulation of agriculture, energy, financial services, telecommunications, and transportation. Electricity deregulation will soon follow, along with a continuing reduction of barriers to international trade. Over the same period, however, the regulation of health and safety, the environment, and employment relations has been increasing sharply. A reduction of the relative burden of regulation will require a continued effort to reduce the remaining economic regulations; major changes in the legislative authority for the regulation of health and safety, the environment, and the workplace; and much more effective administration and congressional review of both existing and proposed regulations.

-389-

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