Regulatory Costs and Benefits

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IRS Rule on Charitable Deductions: A Worthy Goal, a Skillful Fix, but Surprisingly Thin Evidence

June 17, 2019

6/17/19 - The IRS prohibits individual taxpayers from deducting charitable contributions on their federal taxes if they received a state or local tax credit in exchange for the contribution, but allows them to count such donations as state or local tax payments subject to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

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The Relationship Between Regulatory Form & Productivity: An Empirical Application to Agriculture

June 12, 2019

Under a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center produced this four-chapter report detailing the findings of its research on the relationship between regulation and agricultural productivity. This report does not represent an official position of the GW Regulatory Studies Center, the George Washington University, or the United States Department of Agriculture.

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Restoring Internet Freedom as an example of How to Regulate

June 03, 2019

By: Jerry Ellig
Thomas Lambert’s How to Regulate contains some simple but critical pieces of advice for regulators: (1) Diagnose the problem before settling on a solution, (2) Compare the merits (benefits and costs) of alternatives, and (3) Recognize that regulators, like the rest of us, respond to the incentives created by the organization in which they are embedded. The FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order presents an example of how to apply those principles in practice. The 2017 order’s decisions on blocking and throttling, paid prioritization, and the general conduct rule are informed by an extensive diagnosis of the problems the regulations are intended to solve and an assessment of the merits of alternative solutions. The decision to reclassify broadband from Title II to Title I takes into account the public choice incentives that could lead regulators to behave in a less-than-optimal way.

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2019 Spring Unified Agenda

May 22, 2019

5/22/19 - The Spring 2019 Unified Agenda includes a total of 3,791 actions, 295 of which are classified as regulatory, 721 as deregulatory, with the remainder exempt or classified as “other.” Of the total number of actions, 177 are economically significant. The agencies with the most deregulatory actions planned are the Department of Transportation (DOT) with 129 actions and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with 65; these same two agencies have had the most deregulatory actions planned since the Fall 2017 Agenda.

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Statutory Clarity and Judicial Review of Regulatory Impact Analysis

April 29, 2019

4/29/19 -- Precise statutory language corresponds to better benefit-cost analysis and more consistent judicial review. Originally posted in The Regulatory Review.

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Is GDPR the Right Model for the U.S.?

April 03, 2019

4/3/19 -- Recent discussions on online privacy regulation refer to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. It is often seen as a good model to follow for protecting personal data in the digital age. We apply a benefit-cost framework to understand its implications on this side of the Atlantic. Given the existing regulations, an evidence-based approach to identify net-benefits might offer a balanced approach to personal data protection.

Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

Planning for Everything (Besides Death and Taxes)

April 03, 2019

By Susan Dudley, Daniel R. Pérez, Brian Mannix, & Christopher Carrigan
As part of a GW Regulatory Studies Center series of working papers on “Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures,” this paper notes that policymakers face demands to act today to protect against a wide range of future risks, and to do so without impeding economic growth. Yet traditional analytical tools may not be adequate to frame the relevant uncertainties and tradeoffs. Challenges such as climate change, nuclear war, and widespread natural disasters don’t lend themselves to decision rules designed for discrete policy questions and marginal analyses. We refer to such issues as “uncertain futures.”

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Improving Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis

January 22, 2019

By Susan E. Dudley and Brian F. Mannix
Across developed countries, benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is the principal public policy tool for laying out available information in a way that allows policy makers to make balanced, efficient regulatory decisions in the face of limited resources. However, BCA has limitations. This article examines the institutional and technical factors limiting the use of BCA as a tool for improving regulatory policy and offers some recommendations for reducing those barriers.

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Public Interest Comment: Dept. of Education's Student Assistance & Loan Programs

September 07, 2018

By: Daniel R. Pérez
This comment argues that the Dept. of Education's proposal to rescind its 2016 change to the definition of misrepresentation and to change its 2016 approach making a priori assumptions about the quality of non-profit and for-profit schools better complies with existing regulatory requirements. The Department should retain borrowers’ ability to file affirmative claims, collect additional data to inform future rulemaking, and more thoroughly consider the net impact of its proposed rules on processing borrower claims on a case-by-case basis.

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Public Interest Comment: Council on Environmental Quality - Implementing NEPA

August 20, 2018

By: Mark Febrizio
This comment makes recommendations for how the Council on Environmental Quality could improve its data collection methods, how to use those data to enhance retrospective review of National Environmental Policy Act regulations and their effect on industry and the environment, and where to increase transparency in its decision-making process.

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Public Interest Comment: Increasing Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Rulemaking Process

August 14, 2018

By: Brian F. Mannix
In this comment, Mannix explores the reasons why the Environmental Protection Agency might choose to conduct a rulemaking on the general topic of how it considers benefits and costs, reviews some of the legal considerations that should be brought to bear on that effort, and recommends that the administration consider encouraging this type of activity in other agencies.

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Public Comment on the EPA's Proposed Rule Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units

April 27, 2018

By: Brian F. Mannix
The EPA has proposed to repeal the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions guidelines for electric generating units issued on October 23, 2015—better known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Agency has also sought comment separately on what, if anything, ought to replace it. This comment, often drawing on earlier comments, will focus on the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) that supported EPA’s 2015 CPP final rule, and outlines those areas where the agency made major errors in the 2015 RIA, and where it could go further to improve the analysis.

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Public Comment on OMB's 2017 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations

April 09, 2018

By: Brian F. Mannix, Sofie E. Miller, & Susan E. Dudley
The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center improves regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach. As part of its mission, the GW Regulatory Studies Center conducts careful and independent analyses to assess rulemaking proposals from the perspective of the public interest. This comment on the Office of Management and Budget’s 2017 Draft Report to Congress offers suggestions for improving the information value of the Report, as well as the evidence on which regulatory policies depend, and does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest.

Internet privacy

Measuring Costs and Benefits of Privacy Controls: Conceptual Issues and Empirical Estimates

November 06, 2017

By Joseph J. Cordes, Co-Director & Daniel R. Pérez, Policy Analyst
As personal information becomes increasingly available to internet providers, the government, and employers, a lively debate has emerged about the role of public policy in ensuring a proper balance between parties who benefit from greater access to information and the protection of individual rights to privacy. Additionally, emerging technologies such as highly automated vehicles and unmanned aircraft systems bring privacy concerns to the forefront—particularly regarding the proper role of federal regulatory agencies. Agency rulemaking requires a thorough analysis of regulatory benefits and costs. Our paper hopes to contribute to the development and greater use of empirical measures of consumer privacy.

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Public Comment on DOE’s Request for Information on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

July 07, 2017

By Sofie E. Miller
This comment provides the Department of Energy with recommendations on how to reduce regulatory burdens pursuant to Executive Orders 13771 and 13777. Miller recommends that DOE establish consistent internal standards for determining whether a rule is "economically justified," including using a threshold to limit the proportion of consumers who bear net costs. DOE should also review each rule before increasing the stringency of its standards, and consider surveys or other measures of actual consumer behavior to ensure that its assumptions about household appliance energy use are accurate.