The New New Regulatory State

Earlier this week, President Obama penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about his Administration’s plans for the regulatory state.  The executive branch, as its title suggests, is in charge of executing and administering the laws of the land, and the President expresses his desire to balance the free-market innovation machine while protecting public health and safety:

[C]reating a 21st-century regulatory system is about more than which rules to add and which rules to subtract. As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens. It means using disclosure as a tool to inform consumers of their choices, rather than restricting those choices. And it means making sure the government does more of its work online, just like companies are doing.

As my students learn in 240, 280, and 271, the executive branch, through the Office of Management and Budget, (potentially) plays a central role in shaping regulations as they make their way through the rulemaking process.  Indeed, President Reagan issued the seminal executive order concerning benefit-cost analysis, and each President since has attempted to put his stamp on the process.

Of course, there is often a disconnect between what politicians say and what regulators actually do, here are a couple of other takes from a pair of scholars who spend more than their fair share of time thinking about administrative regulation: Stuart Shapiro and Lynne Kiesling.