The latest executive order covering “regulation” insists that “Unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.”

It seems hardly worth discussing further, given its inanity.  Anyone who’s ever met a 7 year old with a pack of Pokemon cards, or been to a holiday cookie exchange, knows not all similarly named items are equivalent, and ‘trades’ need reasoned consideration. But here we are discussing it, I guess because the reason filter at the Oval Office is broken and the paranoia concerns are too high to allow for reasoned comment and amendment from outside the Office before it is too late.

Remember when Reagan’s Executive Order 12291 was controversial? the one imposing Benefit-Cost analysis?  If not, see this 1981 NY Times article on the matter. You know when the Reagan administration presents a foil of reason and thought to the present day, we are off the known path and into uncharted territory.

You can also see the posts of our friends over at the Environmental Economics Blog for more on the craziness of the no-new-costs and other aspects of the order.

Economists know a few things about regulations, and environmental and resource economists know a few more about benefit-cost analysis, and its benefits and costs. Previous posts here touch on exactly these two issues. The economic history of regulation in the US is summarized here, and some of the limits of benefit-cost are addressed here. Nuances of what benefits are and how we care about them are addressed here and here. Really, every post we have here touches on these issues in one way or another, pointing out the challenges, failures, and successes of identifying and managing tradeoffs that matter to all our well-being. It would be wise of the administration to think back to their Economics 101  courses (did they pass them?) and try to do better. It’d be low cost, with a high benefit!!

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