Week in Regulation

Why Independent Agencies Matter

The lone notable rulemaking this week is courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent agency and not covered by the one-in, two-out executive order on regulatory reform. The rulemaking estimates $2.5 billion in net present value costs, roughly $258 million in annual costs and $2.6 billion in benefits. If finalized, it would exceed all regulatory burdens imposed by the Trump Administration. In other words, independent agencies are just as important in the reform debate as cabinet agencies. The per capita regulatory burden for 2017 is $442.

Regulatory Toplines

  • New Proposed Rules: 40
  • New Final Rules: 59
  • 2017 Total Pages of Regulation: 22,278
  • 2017 Final Rules: $31.39 Billion
  • 2017 Proposed Rules: $114.2 Billion

The American Action Forum (AAF) has catalogued regulations according to their codification in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR is organized into 50 titles, with each title corresponding to an industry or part of government. This snapshot of final rules (a change from earlier versions) will help to determine which sectors of the economy receive the highest number of regulatory actions.

The CPSC rule aims to reduce blade injuries from table saws. For example, in 2015 there were roughly 33,400 emergency department injuries from saws. The rule estimates it can decrease these injuries by 70 to 90 percent, generating monetized benefits between $2.3 billion and $3 billion. By contrast, annual costs approach $258 million, with $2.5 billion in net present value costs. These burdens stem mostly from increased costs of table saws, reduced sales, and lost consumer surplus.

Tracking Regulatory Modernization

This was the final week of eligibility for the Congressional Review Act (CRA). With it came a surprise vote that failed 49-51 in the Senate, as the Department of Interior’s methane flaring rule narrowly survived. The numbers are now final for CRA resolutions addressing Obama-era rules; the House and Senate both passed 14 CRA resolutions, with the Senate passing 14 total and the House 15 in all. President Trump has signed 13 and Congress and the administration have eliminated $3.7 billion in total regulatory costs and 4.2 million paperwork burden hours. There were 35 resolutions of disapproval introduced.

On regulatory budget implementation, below are the agencies that have accrued annual savings and are technically compliant with the president’s one-in, two-out budget:

  • Defense: $400 million
  • Interior: $360 million
  • Education: $100 million
  • Labor: $78 million
  • HHS: $0.02 million

All non-DOL figures are the result of CRA resolutions of disapproval. Given their historic regulatory output, AAF can predict that Defense, Interior, and Education will likely meet the goal of $0 in net regulatory costs by the end of this fiscal year. However, if the $60 million rule that was proposed recently becomes final, HHS will need to find at least two regulations to offset the cost.

Affordable Care Act

Since passage, based on total lifetime costs of the regulations, the Affordable Care Act has imposed costs of $53 billion in final state and private-sector burdens and 176.9 million annual paperwork hours.


Click here to view the total estimated revised costs from Dodd-Frank; since passage, the legislation has produced more than 74.8 million final paperwork burden hours and imposed $38.5 billion in direct compliance costs.

Total Burdens

Since January 1, the federal government has published $145.6 billion in compliance costs ($31.39 billion in final rules) and has cut 18.8 million paperwork burden hours (due to 23.8 million in reductions from final rules). Click below for the latest Reg Rodeo findings.