If Men Were Angels, No Regulation Would Be Necessary

President Donald Trump has signed the first of many resolutions, he believes, to repeal the exorbitantly expensive and burdensome regulations that are destroying the economy and costing American jobs.

For weeks, Trump has been meeting with business leaders and industry executives who have all shared the same message—regulations are too expensive for them.

Trump meets with business leaders

White House press secretary Sean Spicer agrees.

The president intends to start rolling back harmful Obama-era regulations, which have cost American businesses and consumers a “staggering” $890 billion, making companies less competitive and even driving some of them out of business, Spicer told reporters.

The figure appears to come from data compiled by the American Action Forum, which found the Obama administration exceeded $890 billion in cumulative regulatory burdens over its eight years.

Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at AAF, posted Feb. 2 the total final regulatory costs for the Obama administration: Annual costs were $139 billion.

Annual benefits were $458 billion.

With few exceptions, agencies are required to issue regulations only when their benefits outweigh their costs. Still, the benefits of regulation are often lost in the debate over costs.

“Everybody hates regulation in the abstract,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), during debate of a bill that would identify regulations to repeal. 

But everybody loves regulation of clean air, clean water, nuclear power and safe food to ensure there is no poison in peanut butter, Raskin said.


It is easy to tally the costs of compliance with regulation, Raskin said. “They don’t look at what the public benefits are, and what the extraordinary and much larger costs to society would be if we did not have regulations.”

In the words of James Madison, if men were angels, no government would be necessary, nor laws or regulations, Raskin added.

“But we do [need regulations],” Raskin said. “And that’s the price that we pay for living in a civilized society.”