Draft Republican Platform Cites Debunked Regulatory Costs Study, Suggests Rules be Only a 'Helpful Guide'

by Ben Somberg

August 27, 2012

A draft of the Republican party platform, posted by Politico on Friday afternoon, reveals that the party has incorporated some of the more absurd claims and proposals on regulations pushed by House Republicans and some more radical trade organizations. 

The draft claims regulations cost $1.75 trillion each year – that’s from a discredited study sponsored by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. It turned out that 70 percent of that figure came from a regression analysis based on opinion polling on perceived regulatory climate in different countries (and much of the rest of the number came from cherry-picking the highest available estimates). The SBA study was debunked by a CPR white paper, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, and the Economic Policy Institute (twice).

The draft platform says: “Constructive regulation should be a helpful guide, not a punitive threat.” In other words, we suggest that you don’t poison your neighbors, but won’t do anything if you do – not quite a get-tough-on-crime message. And in reality, the punitive threats of even our existing rules are often simply too meager: if an employee’s death is caused by the willful violation of an OSHA requirement, for example, the maximum civil fine for the employer is $70,000. We have learned the hard way that that is not enough to deter many employers from breaking the rules.

The regulations section ends with this: “We call for a moratorium on the development of any new major and costly regulations until a Republican Administration reviews existing rules to ensure that they have a sound basis in science and will be cost-effective.” Now, telling the Obama administration – particularly if the President is reelected – that it can’t regulate until a Republican president approves – that’s quite a platform plank!

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