Skeletal government needs meat on its bones


By Tom Temin


The President has ordered into place a new approach to regulation, asking for retirement of two for every one rule an agency proposes to issue. Regulatory reform might be sound public policy, but in reality nothing will get done without the people in place to continuously push this agenda at the agencies. The White House will need a fully functioning Office Regulatory Affairs. The OIRA administrator requires Senate confirmation, so there’s that challenge. But right now OIRA doesn’t even have a website.

To be sure, some regulatory rollbacks will be controversial and demand real debate. The EPA’s water and air plans come to mind. All rules have some basis in governing philosophy, and many do good. Yet surely among the accumulated pages of rules — the government issues 2,500 to 4,500 new rules every year, according to the Office of the Federal Register, covering 70,000 or 80,000 pages — people can agree on something to retire. But it won’t happen spontaneously. Someone in the White House might want to review this handy summary rule-making published by the Congressional Research Service.

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