Commentary Archive



Rachael Behr

Private Sector Solutions for an Outdated Government Website

June 28, 2017

6/28/17 - Argive, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public engagement in the regulatory process, recently released a report focused on modernizing Regulations.gov. Argive suggests that by employing private sector advances in consumer technology, Regulations.gov can overhaul their archaic regulatory website into an ergonomic, streamlined process where agencies can sort and integrate comments more efficiently, and where private parties can have a larger role shaping regulations, fostering a more transparent system.

Sydney E. Allen

Trump’s OIRA Nominee Receives Warm Reception from Senate Committee

June 12, 2017

6/12/17 - President Trump’s nominee to lead OIRA, Professor Neomi Rao, testified before the U.S. Senate HSGAC last Wednesday for her confirmation hearing as administrator of the agency responsible for overseeing federal regulatory activity. Given that regulatory scholars say OIRA “may be the most important office you’ve never heard of,” it was refreshing to hear many senators recognize the significance of the position of the OIRA administrator and offer to help the small, but important, agency improve the effectiveness of the regulatory review process.

Brian Mannix

Regulating on the Technological Margin

June 07, 2017

6/7/17 - At their onset, and sometimes well beyond that, radical technological breakthroughs can present difficult public policy dilemmas. Emerging technologies are, by definition, full of surprises: there are developments that we cannot fully anticipate, and may include some bad outcomes as well as good ones. In this commentary, Mannix weighs in on the challenges of regulating in a technologically innovative society and provides helpful insight as to how agencies can regulate effectively without impeding innovation.

Daniel R. Pérez

The Window on Low-Hanging Fruit in Regulatory Reform is Closing

May 10, 2017

5/10/17 - The 60 day window for Congress to use the CRA to repeal rules issued during the Obama midnight period is coming to a close. So far, the most visible results of President Trump’s deregulatory agenda have been signing these legislative actions but today's Senate vote on the methane rule resulted in the CRA's first failure under President Trump. In this commentary, Pérez explains how future regulatory reform efforts will require considerably less expeditious legislative and executive branch action.

Daniel R. Pérez

More Historic “Firsts” for Regulatory Disapprovals under the Congressional Review Act

April 04, 2017

4/4/17 - Congress continues to make history by exercising its powers under the CRA to eliminate rules issued at the end of the Obama administration. To date, 13 resolutions of disapproval have passed both chambers of Congress; two additional bills have passed the House. President Trump has signed eight of these into law with three additional resolutions awaiting his signature. Finally, the Senate passed two more resolutions on March 30th which should be sent to the president soon. Prior to 2017, Congress had only successfully struck down a single rule using the CRA.

Sofie E. Miller

Spinning Out of Control: The Hidden Costs of Appliance Efficiency Standards

March 30, 2017

3/30/17 - A recent court settlement illustrates that consumers bear burdens—including indirect burdens—as a result of regulation gone awry. In this case, consumers bore costs in the form of higher prices, continued inconvenience, expense, time and bad odors from moldy washing machines. Although consumers in the class action suit didn’t realize it, their moldy washer problem began with DOE’s energy efficiency standards for clothes washers. Because regulations affect all Americans, it’s important to review their effects to make sure consumers aren’t left out to dry.

Susan Dudley

Latest Trump Executive Order Provides Guidance on “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda”

February 27, 2017

2/27/17 - President Trump signed his second executive order aimed at government-wide regulatory practice Friday afternoon. This one is not as dramatic as his January EO 13771, which required agencies to offset the costs of new regulations by removing existing burdens, but it sets up mechanisms for implementing that order, as well as other principles. Specifically, it creates a Regulatory Reform Task Force at each agency, to be headed by a Regulatory Reform Officer, responsible for overseeing implementation of the president’s regulatory reform initiatives and policies.

Daniel R. Pérez

President Trump Signs First Regulatory Disapproval in 16 Years

February 15, 2017

2/15/17 - The 115th Congress has wasted no time in exercising its powers under the Congressional Review Act to eliminate regulations issued by federal agencies during the Obama administration. Currently, eight joint resolutions of disapproval have passed the House—two of which were delivered to the president for his signature on February 6. President Trump signed one of these into law on February 14. This marks the first time in 16 years since Congress has successfully used the CRA to eliminate a regulation.

Dudley and Miller

The Devil is in the Details of President Trump’s Regulatory Executive Order

February 01, 2017

2/1/17 - President Trump’s new executive order, which follows his promises to cut regulatory costs and eliminate two regulations for every new one issued, is certain to shake up the regulatory state. A regulatory offset policy, like those in the U.K and Canada, could provide agencies incentives to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of their accumulated regulations and determine which ones have outlived their usefulness. However, the devil is in the details, and the order doesn’t specify how the policy will be implemented, which could have a “huge” impact on its effectiveness.

Susan E. Dudley

A Tumultuous Inaugural Week in Washington

January 18, 2017

1/18/17 - The U.S. prides itself on smooth transitions of power, but that doesn’t mean this inaugural week isn’t a tumultuous one. President Obama has until noon on Friday to cement his final legacy; then at 12:01 pm it will be President Trump’s turn to flex his muscle. This commentary provides a quick rundown of the policy changes the lead-up to January 20th has brought, and what to expect on Friday afternoon.

Daniel R. Pérez

A Useful Measure of Regulatory Output

January 11, 2017

1/11/17 - The Office of Management and Budget recently published its Exit Memo highlighting several aspects of the agency’s work under President Obama. The memo includes quantitative metrics of the administration’s regulatory output to draw comparisons with regulations issued by agencies under Presidents Clinton and Bush. This commentary describes why measuring regulatory output by comparing economically significant rules is a metric that better characterizes an administration's regulatory priorities.

Sofie E. Miller

As a Parting Gift, Obama Administration Releases Final Report on Regulation

January 03, 2017

1/3/17 - On the day before Christmas Eve, OMB released its annual Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, which provides a window into regulatory activity conducted by federal agencies in Fiscal Year 2015. According to the Report, new regulations issued between October 2014 and September 2015 have both higher costs and higher benefits than those issued in FY 2014, and that the Environmental Protection Agency remains by far the largest contributor to both regulatory costs and benefits in this Report.

Susan E. Dudley

Regulatory Reset: How easy is it to undo regulation?

November 30, 2016

11/20/16 - President-elect Trump has promised big cuts in regulation, including through a requirement that for “for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.” How easy would this be to accomplish? It depends on the circumstances. While regulations cannot be repealed with the stroke of pen (unlike executive orders, which presidents can unilaterally issue and unilaterally revoke), there are procedures for modifying or removing them. In this commentary, Susan Dudley weighs in.

Sofie Miller

President Obama’s Midnight Regulatory Agenda

November 18, 2016

11/18/16 - OIRA released its biannual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, providing the public with a first glimpse at upcoming regulations in the final days of the Obama administration. The final months of an outgoing presidential administration typically generate a significant amount of regulatory activity, termed “midnight” regulation. With a presidential transition on the horizon, many of the midnight regulations on the Obama administration’s agenda could be subject to disapproval by Congress using the Congressional Review Act.

George Eads

Remembering Charlie Schultze

November 08, 2016

11/8/16 - George Eads remembers Brookings economist Charles Schultze, author of The Public Use of Private Interest. As Chair of President Carter’s Council of Economic Advisers, Schultze helped to establish the practice of presidential supervision over executive branch regulatory agencies, along with economically informed thinking about regulatory reform.