Bench Memos

Christopher DeMuth on “The Regulatory State”

In the new summer issue of National Affairs (edited by my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Yuval Levin), regulatory expert Christopher DeMuth has an excellent essay that addresses how to reform the regulatory agency, “the most potent institutional innovation in American government since the Constitution.”

DeMuth first discusses the three foundations—“organizational, financial, and political”—of regulatory power and the excesses and abuses of unchecked “autonomous executive power.” He then provides a careful and favorable review of two (“mutually exclusive”) reform proposals: the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would impose the cost-benefit standard as a matter of statutory law, subject to deferential judicial review; and the REINS (“Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny”) Act, which would require that major new rules be enacted as laws before taking effect.

Anyone interested in the challenges posed by the modern regulatory state should find DeMuth’s essay worth reading.

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