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The Facts About Regulations

The Obama Administration has finalized or formally proposed reforms to save more than $4 billion of regulatory costs over the next five years

Lately, there has been a great deal of inaccurate information about the Obama Administration's record on regulations. I wanted to take the opportunity to clear up the facts, particularly in view of a letter sent by Speaker Boehner to the President today.

President Obama believes that, as our economy recovers and we work to support job creation, it is important to minimize regulatory burdens and avoid unjustified regulatory costs. The President has taken ambitious and strong steps to promote this goal.

Executive Order 13563, issued early this year, calls on all agencies to conduct a thorough retrospective review of existing rules; it also imposes a series of new requirements designed to reduce regulatory burdens and costs. Just this month, twenty-six agencies released regulatory review plans, with over 500 reform initiatives. A mere fraction of the new initiatives will save more than $10 billion over the next five years; as progress continues, we expect to be able to deliver savings far in excess of that figure. Already, we’ve finalized or formally proposed reforms to save more than $4 billion of regulatory costs over that period.

‪It is important to note that there has been no significant increase in rulemaking under this Administration. On the contrary, the number of significant rules reviewed by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and issued in the first two years of the Obama administration is lower than the number issued in the last two years of the Bush administration.  Moreover, in its last two years, the administration of George W. Bush imposed far higher regulatory costs than did the Obama administration in its first two years.

Even more importantly, the net benefits of the final, economically significant regulations reviewed by OIRA in the first two years of the Obama Administration, including not only monetary savings but also lives saved and illnesses prevented, have been over ten times the net benefits during the first two years of the Bush Administration. Smart regulations produce significant benefits in the form of savings for businesses, clean air and water, workplace safety, safe food and consumer and investor protection.

It is important to clarify that the annual regulatory agenda, sometimes cited as evidence of an increase in regulatory burden, is simply a list of potential ideas that agencies may consider pursuing. Under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, the agenda is merely a list of rules that are under general contemplation, provided to the public in order to promote transparency. Before any such rule can be issued, it must be subject to a long series of internal and external constraints, including the rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and the new burden-reducing, cost-saving requirements of the President's January Executive Order on regulation. In any given year, many rules on the agenda do not become final.

The President has said that our regulatory system must "protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness and job creation.”  We look forward to working closely with the public to achieve that goal.