Saturday, September 08, 2012

A good place to start

The Congressional Budget Office has a tough mandate and my impression is that they have worked hard to maintain a reputation for credible research.  They consider costs and benefits when asked; they are often tasked with related analytic work.  There are no slam-dunks in policy analysis, but CBO reports are often a good place to start.

Today's WSJ includes "Bill Aims at Rules' Costs, Benefits ...The measure would require an independent cost-benefit analysis of federal regulations."  We have heard this song many times before.  Common sense suggests that the costs and benefits of proposed rules are things we want to know about.  Again, knowing these is a good place to start.

The Progressives of one-hundred years ago were optimistic that governance could be reformed so that decision making would be more fact-based than had been the practice.  Since that time, various abuses of applied cost-benefit analysis have been cited as reason to dump the practice altogether.  But abuse can occur in any realm. It should prompt a demand for good analysis instead of a rejection of analysis.

It can be done and this is why I cited CBO.  Imperfect, to be sure, but a good place to start.