May 22, 2020

New Research on Federal Regulation, Broadband Policy, and Immigration During COVID-19

New Mercatus Research from May 18-22
Shannon Dailey Staff Writer

Three Myths About Federal Regulation

Patrick McLaughlin and Casey Mulligan | Research Paper

Even among policy experts and agency officials, federal regulation is a notoriously difficult subject to grasp. With an ever-changing landscape of government agencies able to issue new directives, it is no easy task to quantify the number of regulations in place at the federal level. This confusion leads to misunderstandings about regulations and complicates regulatory oversight, making reform nearly impossible. 

In their research paper, Patrick McLaughlin and Casey Mulligan describe three common myths about federal regulations, including the proportion of regulations created for environmental protection, the basis and justification of regulations, and the nature of the costs incurred by most regulations.

Title I Broadband Policy Will Have a Small or Beneficial Net Effect on Public Safety Communications

Brent Skorup | Public Comment

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requested a refresh of the record regarding the effect of reinstatement of Title I internet policy. A common tactic from commenters opposing the FCC’s deregulatory efforts is to formulate worst-case scenarios in which the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO) would be the cause of implausible social calamities such as unreliable breathing machines in hospitals, FCC censorship of public safety communications, widespread disruption to emergency communications, and even spoiled food. No public agency could function if it had to meticulously disprove the remote possibility of every ultimate effect that opposing advocates and firms could tenuously connect to agency action.

Brent Skorup’s public comment expands on this and explains that reinstatement of Title I broadband policy will have a small or modestly beneficial net effect on public safety communications.

Immigration Reform Is Key in the Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis

Christopher Coyne and Yuliya Yatsyshina | Policy Brief

Recent immigration policies regarding F-1 student visas and H-1B work visas, along with the protectionist executive order known as “Buy American and Hire American" introduced by the Trump administration in 2017, have been reducing the application rates of foreigners wishing to enter both universities and the workforce in the United States. This reduces America’s access to a significant number of talented and creative people and the associated benefits.

If current visa policy stands, it is likely that COVID-19 will further limit foreign student admissions to US universities in the coming year and perhaps beyond. This will have long-lasting effects on innovation and economic growth. Therefore, policymakers should treat the COVID-19 pandemic as a unique opportunity to relax or reverse current restrictive policies regarding student visas and H-1B visas. Effective reforms will attract bright young people who will enrich American society in many ways, not least of which being their contribution to innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit that makes the United States an economic powerhouse.

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