Benefits of Federal Regulations Far Exceed the Costs
Todays debate about regulatory overreach is filled with mostly empty talking points, so its easy to forget that theres actually a ton of regularly-updated, widely available data analyzing precisely the cost-benefit breakdown of federal rules and regulations.
Yesterday, the OMB released a draft of its annual report titled, literally, On the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, spelling out in clear terms how much money different federal regulations save us each year, compared to the costs of compliance.
The report is long, but there are a couple main points that every critic of regulatory overreach should take note of:
First, according to the report, the year with the highest regulatory costs was actually 2007 — right in the middle of the Bush Administrations second term. Thats surprising, since I dont remember so much talk of job-killing regulations at the time.
But the point is not the costs, since for every single year over the past decade, the benefits have yielded massively greater savings. From 2001 to 2011, the estimated annual benefits of all federal regulations range from $141 to $700 billion, while the costs fall between $43.3 and $67.3 billion.
Source: Office of Management and Budget
Lastly, despite the incredible amount of criticism the EPA faces from folks on the right, this agency actually yields far greater monetary benefits than any other federal agency — between 60 to 81 percent of all regulatory benefits come from EPA rules, specifically those aiming to improve air quality.
As Demos pointed out in a report last fall, the real costs to focus on are those resulting from regulatory delays: stalled implementation of workplace, food safety, and environmental regulations are seriously placing peoples lives at risk. Well be releasing a comprehensive state-by-state analysis of regulatory delays in the months ahead that digs deeper into the aggregate figures.
For now, its refreshing to have hard numbers on the benefits of federal regulations, but I still doubt that youll start hearing them more often from critics on the right — after all, GOP stump speeches are where facts usually go to die.