Deregulate for the Coronavirus Recovery

Adam White

It’s too soon to fix a date for fully reopening the economy, but not to plan for what recovery will require. Fiscal and monetary stimulus are the federal government’s most potent emergency economic tools, but the Trump administration should also look for opportunities to use regulatory relief to amplify the recovery effort. In the short term, the Covid-19 crisis will justify temporary, targeted regulatory relief. In the long term, it will challenge regulators to apply the crisis’ lessons in reforming and modernizing the administrative state.

The White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs generally leads an administration’s regulatory-reform agenda, and it should spearhead the regulatory planning for the post-Covid recovery. This will require OIRA to focus on the part of regulatory policy that normally consumes the least of its energy: agencies’ enforcement activities. OIRA traditionally focuses on development of new regulations, requiring agencies to harmonize planning and analyze costs and benefits. Normally, this reflects a prudent prioritization of White House resources, because regulations have broader effects than individual enforcement decisions. This approach also avoids the dangers of politicizing or prejudicing agencies’ decisions in individual cases.

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