The phenomenon known as “midnight regulation”—a surge of regulation that occurs at the end of presidential terms between Election Day and Inauguration Day—is well documented. The Obama administration could issue 50 or more midnight regulations before the president leaves office. One major concern with midnight regulations is that they will be ineffective or excessively costly, because they are not thought through as carefully as other regulations.
This year marks the 40th anniversaries of two of the greatest achievements in manned flight. In 1976, US military pilot Eldon W. Joersz set the still-standing airspeed record of 2,193.2 mph in the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird.” That same year, the Concorde introduced the world to supersonic commercial travel with the first passenger flights to break the sound barrier.
Whether today’s policymakers intend or realize it, the evolution of informal and formal fiscal rules continues to shape today’s fiscal policy outcomes. This has led to chronic deficits, mounting debt, a dizzying complexity of tax and budget procedures, and unsustainably large unfunded obligations—all leading toward an overall bad and worsening fiscal outlook. Any serious discussion of reform must start by recognizing the current incentive structure embedded in the budget process. Piling on more formal constraints, without addressing the shifts in the informal rules, will be futile.
The US FDA receives funding through the general fund and user fees. Additional funding comes from the regulated industries. Specifically, the drug industry funds FDA through the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), and the medical device industry funds FDA through the Medical Device User Fee Act (MDUFDA). Both acts are considered a success for requiring FDA to improve approval time for drugs and devices. However, decreased approval times have not resulted in more drug and device innovation.
These charts use the regulatory database RegData, which offers annual statistics on federal regulations produced by each federal regulatory agency. We find that agencies with a growing annual regulatory output—as measured by restrictions, or words used in legal language to either obligate or prohibit an action—typically will also see increases in their employment totals.
In March of this year, the first FAA-approved autonomous commercial drone delivery to an urban residence took place in Nevada. This milestone highlights the exciting opportunities that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can present. If we get our policies right, UASs can yield dividends in cost savings and economic growth in areas like consumer delivery, agriculture, industrial management, and journalism. A new FAA report suggests that a poorly considered regulatory regime could severely inhibit the growth of this promising industry before it has a chance to take flight.
According to the federal government’s latest estimates, government programs for fiscal year 2015 paid out $137 billion “improperly”—meaning that these payments violated guidelines or rules in some way. Fraud is not the only reason, as the federal government reports. Rather, an improper payment can also result from simple clerical error or failure to confirm that a recipient was eligible to receive the amount of money that was disbursed. Whether due to fraud, the complexity of program rules, or bureaucracy, $137 billion is a significant amount of taxpayer funds. Federal spending has grown too massive for the government to provide adequate oversight.
The FBI’s recent conflict with Apple over accessing a locked iPhone in its investigation of the San Bernardino terrorist attack eventually settled out of court when an external party was able to unlock the device. Contrary to the government’s claims that this incident was about just one iPhone, this was far from the first time that law enforcement cited the All Writs Act of 1789 (AWA) to compel private companies to compromise secure devices. This week’s chart shows that law enforcement agencies have attempted to apply this law numerous times in recent years for a range of criminal offenses, particularly drug-related crimes.
In a new video, Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Brian Blase discusses a report from the Department of Health and Human Services that finds Medicaid enrollees who gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act cost almost 50 percent more, on average, than the government projected just one year ago.
Central banks' part in the Great Recession, and the lackluster recovery since, are reviving interest in monetary rules. That revival raises crucial questions. Might the Federal Reserve and other central banks have performed better if they’d adhered to monetary policy rules? Could rules have avoided the crisis altogether? Can they avoid future crises? If so, which rules work best? Can a monetary policy rule work even in a world of near-zero, or negative, interest rates?
Rebounding after disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can be daunting. How do residents of these communities gain access to the resources they need to rebuild while overcoming the collective action problem that characterizes post-disaster relief efforts?
Please join the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for a panel discussion featuring Hayek Program Senior Fellow Virgil Storr and his new book Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship.
As the world’s first decentralized digital currency, Bitcoin has the potential to revolutionize online payment systems and commerce in ways that benefit both consumers and businesses. Individuals can now avoid using an intermediary such as PayPal or submitting credit card information to a third party for verification—both of which often involve transaction fees, restrictions, and security risks—and instead use bitcoins to pay each other directly for goods or services.