For the past 15 years, the Office of Management and Budget has provided Congress with reports on the combined annual benefits and costs of federal agency regulatory programs. All have reported benefits exceeding costs, although it is impossible to tell whether that is actually true. OMB’s comparisons are inaccurate, for three reasons.
With the volume of federal regulations exceeding some 165,000 pages, a reliable practice of review is critical to judge how well or poorly existing regulations actually work and to revise regulations accordingly. Yet despite decades of executive orders aimed at improving retrospective analysis and review, agencies consistently fail to produce useful measures of regulations’ performance.
Obesity is not the result of market failure. Americans do not lack the knowledge, rationale, or motivation to improve their health. Thus, pursuing regulations intended for a market failure will not solve the problem.
The United States’ regulatory system long has failed to consistently produce efficient, cost-effective regulations that deliver promised benefits. For decades, presidents and Congresses have attempted to fix the regulatory system through a series of statutes and executive orders aimed at increasing transparency and improving analysis. Yet the pattern of poor regulatory choices persists, suggesting the problems are not political but deeply embedded in the institutions themselves.
The most basic goal of tax policy is to raise enough revenue to meet the government’s spending requirements with the least impact on market behavior. The United States’ tax code has long failed to meet this aim: by severely distorting market decisions and the allocation of resources, it impedes both potential economic growth and potential tax revenue.
This research summary discusses a new Mercatus Center study finding that in 2010, in the rush to implement key provisions of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government used a fast-track process of regulatory analysis that failed to comply with its own standards and produced poorly substantiated claims about the ACA’s benefits and costs.