It also gives regulators a bad name, which only undermines the safety measures and protections they’re trying to issue.
To crack down on those needless rules that have outlived their use, King and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced the Regulatory Improvement Act in July.
The bill would create an independent commission to review old regulations. That panel would send to Congress a list of ways to consolidate, streamline or get rid of the measures it deemed unnecessary. Those recommendations would have to be voted on without amendments.
Critics who support regulations have worried that the legislation would be an excuse to take old regulations off the books without strengthening new ones or increasing oversight for areas that pose risks to the public.
Those safety advocates have questioned an over-reliance on justifying regulation by focusing on their costs and benefits, which they say necessitates tricky choices. How much money is it worth to avoid an illness, they ask, or to prevent someone from dying prematurely?
But King said that there are some cases where companies would spend millions or billions of dollars to institute a regulation with little measurable health benefit.
“Lives are valuable. But you have to ask yourself if that’s the cost, what is the opportunity cost to society that that money might be spent somewhere else that might be more beneficial than the one life saved for $107 billion?” he asked, referencing one regulation’s high cost for every estimated life saved. “You’re just putting our society in jeopardy it seems to me.”
On Friday, King pledged to make improving the regulatory process a prime focus of his tenure in the Senate.
“I’m going to be here for another five and a half years at least,” he said. “I’m going to be involved with this for at least that long.”