Editor’s Note: The failure of regulatory reform legislation to tame the regulatory state is further evidence of the need for a Regulatory Budget.
Stuart Shapiro & Deanna Moran, “The Checkered History of Regulatory Reform Since the APA”
We review four major regulatory reform statutes passed since the legal enshrinement of the regulatory state by the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946. None of the four statutes can be said to have accomplished their substantive goals (which usually involved reducing the burden of regulation). We recount the debate that accompanied the passage of these statutes and find that passage required the support of legislators and Presidents who favored strong regulation. The statutes, therefore, all gave considerable discretion to regulatory agencies. But regulatory agencies have used this discretion to ensure that the regulatory reform does not curb their ability to make their preferred regulatory decisions. We conclude that as long as the cooperation of political actors who support strong regulation is necessary, reforms to the regulatory process are likely to have minimal effects on the substance of regulation.