Editor’s Note: The most important regulatory reform is Regulatory Budget.
If the United States moves toward a formal regulatory budget, regulators will face the challenge of selecting existing rules to review and rescind. President Obama and several of his predecessors already requested that agencies look back at existing regulations to find ones “to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal.” Although President Obama’s efforts resulted in some substantive reviews, regulators often added new regulations and costs rather than trimming them. Does President-elect Trump leave retrospective review in the hands of cabinet agencies, or task other governmental bodies such as the Congressional Budget Office or the Bureau of Economic Analysis with the job of reviewing more than 170,000 pages of past rules to determine candidates for rescission? Regardless of who is in charge, a functioning regulatory budget depends upon a robust retrospective review effort.
Beyond the mechanics of a regulatory budget, the Trump Administration will have wide latitude to amend the regulatory mechanics in the executive branch. His legal advisors and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—a White House body that oversees new regulations promulgated by federal agencies—likely will formulate executive orders implementing a new vision for regulatory reform. In addition, Trump Administration officials may prioritize review of OIRA’s guidance document on regulatory analysis, OMB Circular A-4. For example, this document might be amended to address concerns conservatives have noted with weighing international benefits in regulatory benefit-cost analysis or with counting so-called private benefits like consumer energy savings. These issues, among others, could be addressed through a few simple changes to Circular A-4.