Is America’s accumulating pile of regulations slowing down economic growth? According to a new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the answer is yes: Thanks to regulatory drag, the U.S. economy is $4 trillion smaller than it otherwise would have been.
Of course, proponents of regulations can always point to the good that the rules are supposed to do. On Earth Day, I was on a climate change panel with Avi Garbow, general counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency, and he certainly believes his agency does far more good than harm. He cited President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would force power plants to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030. According to agency calculations, American families would see up to $7 in health benefits for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan. By lowering particulate, ozone, and nitrogen oxide pollution, the EPA argues, Americans will gain the health equivalent of $55 to $93 billion annually; the yearly costs will be only $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion by 2030.
Garbow added that EPA regs don’t just stop harms but spur technological innovation. He specifically cited regulations that support the deployment of renewable energy supplies, and he pointed out that there are now more jobs in the solar power industry than there are in coal mining.