Private Sector Pushes Cost-Benefit Testing of Regulations

Wednesday, 13 Mar 2013 01:01 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Business groups are stepping up pressure on federal agencies to look more closely at the economic impact of new regulations so the rules don’t impede growth, reports The Hill newspaper.

A new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged regulators to adopt “rigorous cost-benefit analysis to arrive at more rational decision-making,” especially in light of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act.

“This is 400 rules happening at once across 20 agencies,” David Hirschmann, president of the Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, said of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act.

In addition to the financial sector, federal rules cover everything from pollution limits on power plants to worker protections, to health standards for school lunches.

According to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former White House budget director who is now president of the American Action Forum, regulations put forward during President Barack Obama’s first term accounted for an estimated total cost of $500 billion.

Congressional Republicans love the idea of cost-benefit analysis and are backing a measure known as Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act that would require legislative oversight of any regulation estimated to cost $100 million or more.

Consumer groups, however, argue that it is often easier to analyze the dollar cost of new regulations than the intangible benefits in areas such as public safety and health.

“The push for more cost-benefit analysis is dangerous if it becomes decisive rather than informative,” Amit Narang of the nonprofit Public Citizen group told The Hill.


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