A better regulatory review is possible
Today, we’re releasing a new report by @rdnayak and yours truly that looks at a little known executive branch agency called the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. What’s this all about?
Today, OIRA can be bogged down and often favors “deregulatory” actions and the interests of business over those of all stakeholders. @toddntucker and @rdnayak show what an OIRA 2.0 could look like in a new report from GDI. http://bit.ly/2RsV884
This agency has 3 core functions:
1) ensuring that the federal government speaks with one voice
in rulemaking, negotiating any conflicts within the various government agencies;
2) ensuring that agency policymaking reflects the president’s priorities; and serving as a peer reviewer for agency policymaking, including reviewing each rule’s cost-benefit analysis.
This latter bit is bigly consequential.
For instance, the discount rate can determine whether a reg’s costs to business today are worth benefits to future generations.
Ditto the so-called “value of a statistical life,” which agencies use to determine whether a reg that will cost $9 million and save a single life would be worth it.
(Hint: under current ballparks, the answer would be a break even.)
5. So whatever on thinks of these estimates, at we have a ballmark cost of the lives lost. Yes, they may skew older and so this may be a bit of an overestimate. But we’ll looking on the order of 20 trillion dollars US.
That’s interesting number, because that’s the US GDP.
OIRA has come in for criticism from the left for slowing down or killing regulations, especially from more “liberal” agencies like the EPA. There’s scholarship — see this by @SimonFHaeder and Susan Yackee — that shows merit to that argument. (academic.oup.com/jpart/article-…) And despite these criticisms, the US increasingly incorporates and locks in this mode of regulatory review into our international agreements, most recently NAFTA 2.0 / USMCA.
Ironically, this is something the Trump administration — which pushed the USMCA rules — flagged just weeks ago in their critique of similar non-discrimination interpretations.https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2020/february/ustr-issues-report-wto-appellate-body …
At the same time, ironically, some aspects of the review/consultation process have actually proven to be safeguards under the Trump administration, allowing advocates to beat back deregulation when the rules aren’t followed. (washingtonpost.com/climate-enviro…) So @rdnayak and I propose a host of ways to think about how OIRA could do its job differently in an era of existential threats, ranging from pandemics to climate change to soaring inequality.
The tl;dr here in this blogpost: (rooseveltinstitute.org/little-known-g…)
These changes would speed up the review process, while also ensuring that regulators are paying attention to and publicizing the impacts of regulation on environmental sustainability, inequality, equity, and power-building.
The goals of this OIRA reboot would be to enable big structural change and make that change sticky. (vox.com/policy-and-pol…) We draw insights from other countries that are more nimble in their regulatory responses, or are better at long-term economic planning. For our economic competitors, a lack of a Senate, activist courts, and other veto points enables action… fast. (axios.com/new-zealand-fl…) OIRA — remade as a de facto planning agency — might allow the US to accomplish some of the same ends via American means.
This is not totally wild. A variety of scholars have noted OIRA kind of does this implicitly. Our goal is to make the implicit explicit, and make it good.
We learned a lot from others, including @David_Arkush @SamBerger_DC @jleibenluft @sharblock @gregleiserson @snaidunl @ksabeelrahman @ShaynaStrom @DavidHTalbot @profsheena @StevenKVogel @jeffhauser @tphillips @heinzerlaw @drdavidmichaels @J_A_Goodwin @ZLiscow @GaneshSitaraman
And a special thanks to @NellAbernathy @SuzMKahn and the rest of the @rooseveltinst for helping get this out. We didn’t plan on releasing this during a pandemic, but the crisis shows that regulatory review is not set in stone
Indeed, much of the COVID-19 response is exempt, as are bank bailouts and wars
Which goes to show, things move when there’s a will/ a way (greatdemocracyinitiative.org/document/oira-…)
(Adapted from this thread.)