With each new bit of regulation proposed a screeching chorus rises from industry pronouncing the dire consequences set to befall the country if even the slightest utterance of such rules are dared spoken. How many times have these warnings of cataclysm been heard? And how many times have they come to pass?
In response to the Clean Air Act’s emissions standards, Lee Iaccoca issued a press statement predicting;
“[The provisions] could prevent continued production of automobiles after January 1, 1975. Even if they do not stop production, they could lead to huge increases in the price of cars. They could have a tremendous impact on all of American industry and could do irreparable damage to the American economy.”
Likewise, Ernie Starkman, an executive with General Motors stated the regulations requiring catalytic converters on 1975 vehicles would create an “unreasonable risk of business catastrophe” and may well lead to a “complete stoppage of the entire production.”
In the intervening 38 years has the U.S. auto industry suffered from the utter catastrophes predicted by these industry leaders? No, they have not. In actuality it did take the worst recession in 80 years to bring the industry to the edge of such a collapse. Through hindsight it is hard to imagine such detrimental impacts from a few regulations.
A new report from Public Citizen and reported in The Hill calls into question the consistant predictions of acute consequences from new regulations. The Lead researcher, Adam Crowther, states, “Time and time again, industry makes dire forecasts about the impact of regulation, even though the actual impact of the regulation is incredibly modest and often positive.”
The report looked at the fights over the Family and Medical Leave Act, the banning of lead in gasoline, laws restricting public smoking and the CARD Act that was signed by President Obama in 2009. “The proposed regulation initially prompts industry to conjure dramatic language about the damage it will cause. Then, the regulation takes effect and wins broad public approval,” the report says. “Meanwhile, industry’s ominous predictions quietly recede from memory after they fail to materialize.”