by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Earlier this month, the Mercatus Center published its analysis of regulatory exansion under the last six presidential administrations. Here’s a graphic summary:
The Mercatus report supplements similar findings by the Comptetitive Enterprise Institute in its annual snapshot of the regulatory state entitled Ten Thousand Commandments.
In response to the relentless expansion described in these reports, legal scholar Michael Greve makes several observations:
Regardless of the metric, the regulatory state has grown at a breathtaking rate, for decades.
The regulatory state has imposed a heavy toll on the economy. CEI estimates the cost of the “hidden (regulatory) tax” at close to $15,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Yes, you can quarrel with the methodology. And yes, maybe all that money buys something that’s worth having. But the crucial fact is that regulatory impositions aren’t subject to any kind of budget constraint. So long as a regulation looks like a neat idea and an agency can conjure up some net benefit, it’s all systems go. It’s bound to be the case that there’s altogether too much of this.
This growth of the regulatory state has been a bipartisan affair. Control of the White House does not seem to matter. Control of Congress matters less and less.
Greve proposes a solution: demand “a set of credible pre-commitments to not regulate” from any presidential aspirant, including:
On my watch, the FCC will not regulate the Internet under any Title II or any other provision of the Federal Communications Act. It’s a stupid idea, and we don’t have the authority.
There will be no “clean power” plan or regulation for greenhouse gas emissions. Stupid idea. No statutory authority. Good night.
We will not regulate fracking. There’s no reason to interfere with the only thing that’s gone right with the U.S. economy over the past decade, despite my predecessor’s best efforts. Also, my administration refuses to push our doubtful statutory authority on this point.