Commentary Archive



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 While regulations cannot be repealed with the stroke of pen (unlike executive orders, which presidents can unilaterally issue and unilaterally revoke), there are procedures for modifying or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.

Daniel R. Pérez

The Midnight Uptick: Hasty Turnaround for Costly Student Loan Rule

November 02, 2016

11/2/16 - The Department of Education (ED) published a final rule concerning its student loan program on November 1, 2016. This rule attracted a great deal of input during its notice and comment period; ED notes that it received comments from over 50,000 parties. The Department completed its review with remarkable speed considering the amount of input received. The final rule could cost taxpayers up to $3.5 billion per year. Notably, the Department published its final rule without making any substantive changes as a result of the public input it received.

Sofie E. Miller

Regulatory Review in the Land of Lincoln

October 25, 2016

10/25/16 - Governor Bruce Rauner recently created the Illinois Competitiveness Council, which is charged with reviewing existing rules to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens that stifle competition and burden consumers. Illinois isn’t the first to recognize how outdated rules can negatively affect citizens and businesses, and this initiative builds off of efforts in other states and in the federal government. Retrospective review of existing rules is necessary for a well-functioning regulatory process, and Illinois’s new Competitiveness Council is a step in the right direction.

Aryamala Prasad

Taiwan: Taking Public Participation a Step Further

October 20, 2016

10/20/16 - Recently, the Executive Yuan of Taiwan issued a directive to extend the duration of the comment period in administrative rulemaking from 14 days to 60 days. This was a welcome move as the longer comment period provides greater opportunity for public participation. In this commentary, Prasad examines the challenges of operationalizing the notice and comment process and possible areas of improvement.

Daniel R. Pérez

The Renewable Fuel Standard’s Contribution to National Security is Misconstrued by its Advocates

September 29, 2016

9/29/16 - Advocates of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) often cite its contribution to national security in their list of reasons for either maintaining or expanding the program. Providing security is a first-order priority of government, but the contribution of the RFS to national security is widely misrepresented. Understanding this component of the program is necessary in order to conduct a fair assessment of whether its benefits outweigh its costs.

Daniel R. Pérez

Reaching Across Borders: U.S. – EU Regulatory Cooperation in Practice

September 20, 2016

9/20/16 - The U.S. and EU continue to improve outcomes for their citizens through successful regulatory cooperation despite the continued political rhetoric against international trade. On Thursday, September 15, 2016, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center co-hosted a conference with the EU Delegation to the United States on “U.S.-EU International Regulatory Cooperation in Practice.” The conference brought together senior officials from the European Commission and U.S. government, experts and practitioners in the areas of trade and regulatory cooperation, industry stakeholders, and consumer interest groups.

Susan E. Dudley

Improving Evaluation of Chemical Regulations

August 31, 2016

8/31/16 - Ex-ante regulatory impact assessment has a long tradition in many countries but it necessarily depends on unverifiable assumptions and models of how the world would look absent the regulation, and how responses to regulatory requirements will alter those conditions. In essence, ex-ante analyses are hypotheses of the effects of regulatory actions. More consistent and robust evaluation of regulatory outcomes would allow agencies to test those hypotheses. This would be valuable not only for understanding the effect of past actions, but for improving future decisions.

Sofie E. Miller

Mobile Home Regulations Threaten Access to Affordable Housing

August 22, 2016

8/22/16 - Manufactured homes—formerly known as mobile homes—are an affordable source of housing for many elderly and low-income households throughout the U.S. Recently, DOE proposed new energy efficiency standards for manufactured homes that would increase prices in exchange for reduced long-term operating costs. However, this tradeoff may not make sense for many manufactured home owners who live in climates where the cost savings don’t add up. DOE’s proposal doesn’t pass the benefit-cost test, and increased efficiency will price many consumers—particularly low-income consumers—out of the market for homes entirely.

Marcus Peacock

The Big Squeeze on Regulatory Agencies

August 09, 2016

8/9/16 - The latest tally of the amount of money it will take to run federal regulatory programs this fiscal year is $63 billion, a 0.7 percent increase over last year. With the government’s debt held by the public now 75 percent of GDP any increase in spending may seem generous but, for regulatory program managers, it is a reminder that they are living under increasingly tighter budget constraints than in the past. In this commentary, Peacock examines this significant challenge for regulatory agencies and for the next president.

Daniel R. Pérez

Reforms to Student Loans Create More Problems Than They Fix

August 03, 2016

8/3/16 - The Department of Education’s proposed new regulation regarding student loans is getting a lot of attention. It received almost 7,000 public comments on proposed changes to how it administers its Federal Direct Loan Program and its requirements for post-secondary schools whose students pay for tuition using federally funded student loans. Unfortunately, ED has not done its homework. Our comment on the proposed rule finds that is likely to create more problems than it solves. This rule could end up hurting the poor and costing taxpayers up to $4.23 billion per year.