The Faux Scholarship Foundation of the Regulatory Rollback Movement
73 Pages Posted: 3 May 2018 Last revised: 18 May 2018
Date Written: March 16, 2018
With the full participation and consent of Congress, President Trump has embarked upon a radical project to freeze and roll back federal regulations that protect public health, safety, the environment and the economy. The principal justification for this project, publicly announced by both Congress and President Trump, is the claim that regulations are costing the American economy $2 trillion per year, thereby destroying jobs. This claim derives from two studies that have received wide and credulous circulation in the media, on Capitol Hill and in the White House. This Article accordingly undertakes a comprehensive evaluation of these two studies. It will show that their methods are deeply flawed and their results far too weakly-grounded to serve as the basis for a major policy shift. It also will examine the techniques used in these studies to give ungrounded numbers the veneer of credibility, thus equipping the lay reader with insights needed to spot similar deceptions in the future. This Article will demonstrate that, in fact, the “aggregate cost of regulation” is unknown, unknowable and unnecessary to sound regulatory policy. There is no evidence or reason to believe that regulations are costing jobs. Scapegoating regulation kills regulations while distracting attention from the actual threats to jobs: flawed trade policies and disruptive automation.
Keywords: Regulation; regulatory reform; regulatory cost; cost-benefit analysis; administrative law
JEL Classification: K20, K23, K32, C20, C23, C52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation