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March 29, 2022 by James Goodwin

Safeguarding the Right to Vote Through a Strong Regulatory System

This op-ed was originally published by The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

The regulatory system, contrary to the claims of its conservative critics, is an indispensable part of the broader civic infrastructure on which our democracy is built. Significantly, the ability to exercise voting rights—the most visible and potent act of civic engagement—necessitates a stronger and more inclusive regulatory system.

Effective civic engagement is a skill that requires practice to develop and maintain, not unlike playing piano or speaking a foreign language. This reality is especially true of voting, which involves more than just turning out for elections. Discerning voters must understand the issues at stake, demand high-quality candidates, and monitor public officials' performance to hold them accountable.

Observers of the United States' constitutional system of governance have long praised the wide variety of social institutions that allow us to hone our civic engagement skills. Nearly 200 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the vast array of civic associations in the United States, famously calling them our "schools of democracy."

Today, the regulatory system stands as one of the most important of these Tocquevillian schools of democracy, although few might think of it in these terms …

Aug. 17, 2021 by Sidney Shapiro, Melissa Lutrell
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The surging COVID-19 delta variant is sending thousands of people to the hospital, killing others, and straining several states' hospital systems to their breaking point. The climate crisis is hurting people, communities and countries as we write this piece, with apocalyptic wildfires, crippling droughts and raging floodwaters. Systemic racism continues unabated, leading to vast economic and environmental injustices. It's beyond time for urgent action, but to get there, the federal government must reform the opaque, biased method it uses to evaluate our nation's public health, economic and environmental protections.

The day President Joe Biden took office, he ordered executive branch agencies to evaluate and reform the regulatory review process to “ensure swift and effective Federal action” to address the urgent problems we currently face. The administration is unlikely to live up to this goal unless the White House addresses …

March 23, 2021 by James Goodwin, Sidney Shapiro
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This op-ed originally ran in The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

To paraphrase French economist Thomas Piketty, the task of evaluating new regulations is too important to leave to just economists. Yet, since the 1980s, White House-supervised regulatory impact analysis has privileged economic efficiency as the primary and often only legitimate objective of federal regulation. The regulatory reform initiative launched by President Joseph R. Biden on his first day in office creates an opportunity to reorient regulatory analysis in ways that both reformers and the public support.

Legal and policy experts object to hyper-technical regulatory analysis, and new public opinion polling indicates that voters agree.

Far from a monolithic concept, cost-benefit analysis encompasses a wide range of approaches and techniques, all with their own theoretical underpinnings and ethical commitments. Indeed, the current version of cost-benefit analysis is grounded in the conservative discipline of welfare economics and seeks …

Nov. 8, 2018 by James Goodwin
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Originally published in The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

By even cost-benefit analysis — the most biased metric — regulations are improving America, producing benefits that exceed costs by a ratio of as much as 12-to-1, according to the most recent figures from the Trump Administration. Of course, those numbers barely scratch the surface of what regulations actually "do."

Thanks in part to the Clean Air Act, for example, the median concentration of lead in the blood of children between one and five years old decreased 93 percent between 1976 and 2012. The Endangered Species Act was instrumental in bringing the iconic bald eagle back from the brink of extinction. And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulations helped reduce worker fatality rates from 18 deaths per 100,000 workers in 1970 to four deaths per 100,000 workers in 2006.

Given the enormous success of regulations, you …

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CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
March 29, 2022

Safeguarding the Right to Vote Through a Strong Regulatory System

Aug. 17, 2021

The Hill Op-ed: Regulatory Analysis Is Too Important to Be Left to the Economists

March 23, 2021

To Democratize Regulation, Reform Regulatory Analysis

Nov. 8, 2018

Warren's Bill Presents Progressive Vision for Rulemaking Reform