This morning, CPR President and Loyola University, New Orleans, Law Professor Robert R.M. Verchick testifies at a hearing convened by the Senate Budget Committee to examine a dangerous regulatory policy proposal known as “regulatory budgeting.”
As he explains in his testimony, regulatory budgeting represents a stark departure from the traditional focus of regulatory policy discussions, which have long been concerned with improving the effectiveness—or quality—of regulatory decision-making. Regulatory budgeting, by contrast, makes the total number—or quantity—of regulations the primary focus, relegating concerns of individual regulatory quality to a matter of secondary importance.
Regulatory budgeting seeks to impose an arbitrary cap on total regulatory costs. According to one version, agencies would get an annual regulatory budget—much like their appropriations budget—which would constrain how many new regulations the agency could implement during the covered time period. Agencies could seek to exceed that budget, but they would need to first remove existing regulations that impose a cost that is greater than or equal to the new regulation. A second version would simply require agencies to remove existing regulations any time they wish to institute a new one — what many have referred to as a “one in, one out” proposition.
Such a simple-minded system is sure to produce absurd results. For example, it would almost certainly prevent agencies from issuing effective regulations that make society better off, ...