There’s something of interest in this piece by Cass Sunstein, Obama’s chief of regulation (It has become common to call him ‘Regulatory Czar’ for some reason – not ‘Regulatory Strongman’ or ‘Regulatory Hulk Hogan’, but ‘Regulatory Czar’). It speaks not just of the costs of regulation but also of benefits. As part of summarising what’s good about the regulatory policy that he is ‘Czar’ of he quotes not only the extent to which they’ve been able to cut the cost of regulation (if you pay close attention to the numbers quoted they’re pitifully small by the way), but also the benefits of regulation.
This insistence on pragmatic, evidence-based, cost-effective rules is what has informed our regulatory approach over the past two and a half years. We have helped to bring highway deaths down to their lowest level in 60 years; promoted airline safety while protecting passengers from tarmac delays, overbooking and hidden charges; sharply reduced the risk of salmonella from eggs; dramatically increased the fuel economy of cars and trucks, promoting energy independence while saving consumers money; and curbed air pollution that kills thousands of people each year. At the same time, we are eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and tens of millions of hours in annual red tape.
So there you have it: a social democratic approach to talking about regulation. The other thing is that Sunstein talks about lowering the costs of overregulation and bad regulation not just for businesses and organisations generally (which is where we focus our energies on regulation review), but also on individuals.
We are taking immediate steps to save individuals, businesses, and state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars every year in regulatory burdens.
Very sensible too. It’s hard to see the downside.