A Smarter Approach to Regulation
Since taking office, President Obama has been committed to eliminating red tape and ensuring that when rules are issued to protect safety and health, they are sensitive to the economic situation and attuned to the importance of job creation and economic growth.
As this White House White Board shows, the net benefits, or the benefits minus the costs, of regulations issued through the third fiscal year of the Obama Administration have exceeded $91 billion. This amount, including not only monetary savings but also thousands of lives saved and tens of thousands of illnesses and injuries prevented,is over 25 times the net benefits through the third fiscal year of the previous Administration. What are the ingredients of these benefits?
Part of the answer lies in the reduction of regulatory costs. President Obama has created an unprecedented government-wide regulatory “lookback,” designed to revisit rules on the books to see if they really make sense. Government agencies have identified over 580 reform proposals and already acted on over 100 of them. Just a very small fraction of those reforms, already finalized or proposed to the public, will save over $10 billion over the next five years and eliminate tens of millions of hours of paperwork requirements. This is just a beginning. As the reforms continue, we expect to be able to produce far greater savings.
The success of small businesses is exceedingly important to our economic recovery, and agencies have been working to reduce burdens that hinder job creation and economic expansion. For example, truck drivers, and small businesses that employ them, are sometimes required to fill out forms that may be unnecessary and unduly burdensome. The Department of Transportation took a hard look and recently eliminated over 32 million annual forms, thus saving tens of millions of dollars in costs annually while also eliminating 1.6 million hours that truck drivers spend on administrative work each year.
As part of the regulatory lookback, we are also taking a look at regulations imposed on state and local governments. We have already eliminated a number of costly regulations, saving millions of dollar a year, so local officials can focus on their top priorities, such as education and police protection, during an economically difficult time.
In the area of safety and health, doctors and hospitals have been relieved of numerous burdensome requirements so they can provide patients with better care. The result of now-final reforms will be five-year savings of about $5 billion. Before long, we expect to add significantly to these savings, not least through the streamlining and eliminating of paperwork and reporting requirements.
At the same time, the Administration has been issuing smart rules that promise to deliver big benefits for the American people in terms of health and safety. Lives are being saved and injuries and illnesses are being reduced. For example, one rule reduces the stopping distance for trucks by 30 percent, thus averting $170 million in annual property damage, and, most importantly, saving over 200 lives a year. We also took a step to reduce the risk of salmonella in shell eggs, saving dozens of lives a year and eliminating up to 79,000 illnesses annually.
New rules will significantly increase fuel economy in the United States for both cars and trucks. These rules will save consumers billions of dollars at the pump, reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil, and make our air cleaner, thus protecting public health. At the same time, smart disclosure policies are informing the choices of investors, workers, consumers, in areas including education, finance, nutrition, and safety.
These are just a few examples of rules that are producing large benefits – saving lives, reducing accidents and illnesses, and reducing unjustified burdens and red tape. Through a series of ambitious steps, we’ve created a 21st-century regulatory system that is cost-effective, flexible, evidence-based, and modern. The Administration’s regulatory review is already on track to remove billions of dollars of regulatory costs for small businesses and the economy, with far greater savings to come.
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