On Friday, the administration news-dumped a report from the Office of Management and Budget that thoroughly put the axe to Team Trump’s incessant declarations that government regulations were hurting America by costing more money than they are worth. It did this through the arcane technical arts of adding numbers up.
OMB gathered data and analysis on “major” federal regulations (those with $100 million or more in economic impact) between 2006 and 2016, a period that includes all of Obama’s administration, stopping just short of Trump’s. The final tally, reported in 2001 dollars:
• Aggregate benefits: $219 to $695 billion
• Aggregate costs: $59 to $88 billion
By even the most conservative estimate, the benefits of Obama’s regulations wildly outweighed the costs.
So there you go; the Obama-era regulations being railed against by Trump’s merry band of burn-the-government-down corporatists cost an order of magnitude less than the benefits the public reaped for having them. This was never the original problem, of course; the real problem has always been that businesses had to pay the costs but it was the common rabble that benefited, via such petty interests as fewer asthma deaths.
For example, new fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines had (in 2001 dollars) between $6.7 billion and $9.7 billion in benefits. But they cost industry $0.8 billion to $1.1 billion.
Since Corporations Are Not People, what this actually means is that car buyers and car company shareholders had to pay roughly $1 billion for new engine designs, but gained, along with everyone else in the country, multiple billions worth of benefits in exchange. Alas, that is not how top polluters see these things—looking at you, fossil fuel extractors.
Given the very quiet manner in which this report was released, we can presume that the Trump administration does not intend to alter their rhetoric to take into account their monumental, incandescent wrongness. But we can still point it out, each and every future time they trot out the flat lie that regulations benefiting all of us are somehow decimating the American economy. It does not, in fact, work that way.
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