Repost from The limits of thinking of a regulatory budget like a fiscal budget

Original source:, an article by Stuart Shapiro

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Deregulation has been a centerpiece of the Trump Administration’s agenda. One of the key initiatives that the Administration has used to attempt to advance deregulation is a regulatory budget. Modeled on ideas that have percolated in the academic literature for more than a generation, a regulatory budget puts a limit on the costs that agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security can impose on the public through regulation.

Executive Order 13771 outlines the details of the Trump Administration regulatory budget. The Order states, “all agencies are directed that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero, unless otherwise required by law.” The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) later produced guidance on agency compliance with the regulatory budget and has since worked with agencies to develop annual regulatory budgets.

Regulatory Budgets and Fiscal Budgets

The literature on regulatory budgets has generally been produced by academics and former government officials (largely Republican appointees) hoping to see it used as a tool to constrain agency regulation. One of the primary arguments voiced by those who support a regulatory budget is that it is merely an analogue to a fiscal budget, and so the use of a regulatory budget should be no more controversial than the use of a fiscal budget.

This is superficially compelling, but the analogy has significant limits […].

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