Letter Criticizes Effort to Undo Objective Cost-Benefit Analysis to Further Woke Agenda
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) are leading a coalition of Senate Republican committee ranking members in sounding the alarm over an attempt by the White House to hijack the rulemaking process to advance left-wing policy goals that have been rejected by Congress.
In a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the lawmakers rebuke a policy change that would manipulate cost-benefit analyses so benefits from new federal regulations appear to be greater than the costs. While rulemakings have traditionally covered only real, tangible costs and benefits, the Biden administration has directed OIRA to promote ambiguous left-wing ideas like “equity” and “environmental stewardship” and assign to them speculative monetary values. OIRA is also proposing changes that would count additional “savings” from new environmental rules that the administration believes would theoretically slow the effects of global warming in foreign countries.
The Senators wrote:
“We write to express our opposition to the proposed revisions, which are seemingly designed to fast-track progressive policies that do not have a majority of votes in Congress necessary for passage into law. The proposed changes sacrifice OIRA’s traditional objective calculation of regulatory costs and benefits to further the administration’s left-wing priorities on “social welfare,” “racial justice,” “environmental stewardship,” and “equity” as listed in President Biden’s Memorandum on Modernizing Regulatory Review.”
“As an example, the changes to the geographic and temporal scope of analysis could make a proposed environmental regulation cost-justified that would theoretically lessen the potential for flooding in Somalia in the year 2060.”
Joining the letter were Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Budget; Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ranking Member Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The full text of this letter is available HERE.
To summarize, the letter highlights the following concerns with the proposed changes to regulatory review that will further Biden’s left-wing priorities:
1. Notes the intent as detailed in the Memorandum on Modernizing Regulatory Review is to find benefits from rules in “social welfare,” “racial justice,” “environmental stewardship,” and “equity”;
2. Upwardly revises the cost threshold of a “significant regulatory action” that is subject to additional scrutiny from $100 million to $200 million, adjusted for changes to GDP;
3. Requires formal authorization from the OIRA administrator to approve centralized review in certain cases, lessening the chance for centralized review and making the review process less objective and predictable for agencies;
4. Encourages agencies to broaden their geographic scope of analysis to include the effects of regulations on noncitizens residing abroad, inflating the estimation of the “social cost of carbon” to find more damage globally from climate change;
5. Encourages agencies to expand the time frame of their analysis beyond the traditional ten-year window, inflating benefits that tend to accumulate in the future;
6. Adjusts the discount rate to 1.7% from the current range of 3%-7%, further inflating future benefits;
7. Encourages agencies to account for all “ancillary” benefits that are typically unrelated to Congress’s main goal in enacting the statutory program under which the agency issues regulations;
8. Attempts to bake “equity” into the regulatory process through the use of distributional analysis.