Tech Roundup Episode 19 – Should TikTok Be Banned? A Conversation on Free Speech, National Security, State Actors, and State Actions

Following concerns about the information collected by and influence of the immensely popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, debates have sprung up: should TikTok be banned?

Some contend that TikTok poses a tangible and imminent threat to the United States’ national security, and that as such it should be banned immediately. Others assert it is a valuable and important platform for free speech, and that a full ban would violate citizens’ rights. These contrasting positions raise some important questions: is TikTok a threat to national security, and if so how should that be handled? Does TikTok’s “Project Texas,” which would purportedly have U.S. TikTok user data stored by a U.S. company suffice? Can one simply place restrictions on its use for individuals who deal with sensitive data (government employees, military members, etc.) or does the threat require a full ban? Additionally, who can/ should implement those restrictions? For a ban to be effective does it need to be national, or can states act effectively to restrict or ban TikTok themselves?


Although this transcript is largely accurate, in some cases it could be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.



Introduction:  Welcome to the Regulatory Transparency Project’s Fourth Branch Podcast series. All expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.


Colton Graub:  Hello, and welcome to the Regulatory Transparency Project’s Explainer Podcast. My name is Colton Graub. I’m the Deputy Director of RTP. Today, we are excited to host an Explainer Podcast Discussion on the Biden administration’s proposal to change how federal agencies should approach cost-benefit analysis. We are pleased to have Karen Harned, Howard Beales, and Paul Ray to discuss this important topic with us. 


Karen, who will be moderating today’s discussion, is president at Harned Strategies LLC, and Executive Director of Citizens for Legal Reform and the Center for Constitutional Responsibility. Prior to that, she served as the Executive Director of the NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. 


Howard Beales is a professor emeritus of strategic management and public policy at the George Washington University School of Business.  From 2001 to 2004, Howard served as the director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. 


Paul Ray is the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.  Paul served as the administrator of the Office of Administration Regulatory Affairs in the Trump Administration from 2020 to 2021. 


Now, in the interest of time, I’ve kept my introductions of our guests brief. But if you’d like to learn more about any of them, you can find their full bios at With that, I’ll hand it over to our host for today’s discussion. Karen, the mic is yours.


Karen Harned:  Thanks, Colton. And thanks, everyone, for joining us today. So, this program, as Colton referenced, is going to discuss a new rulemaking that has come out that is about how agencies do their rules. And this is in response to a day-one executive order that Biden issued on modernizing the regulatory process. So, we’re going to start now with Paul Ray, who, as Colton said, is a former OIRA administrator — Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator — and really had a bird’s-eye view of how this works and what these changes are and how they will impact us. And then we’ll go to Howard. So, Paul, take it away.


Paul J. Ray:  Well, thank you. Karen, Colton, good to be with you here. Howard, great to join you here. And thanks to all of our listeners. The first thing people ask me when I mention that I was the administrator of OIRA is usually, “What is OIRA?” And so, I want to begin by talking about that. So, OIRA, as Karen mentioned, stands for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It was created around 1980, and entrusted by President Reagan, early in his administration, with the regulatory review process. 


Now, all of you probably know that federal agencies issue regulations. And President Reagan created a regulatory review process to review those regulations before they become law. That process is run by OIRA. It was created in an order issued by President Reagan, and President Clinton later replaced that order with one of his own. That is Executive Order 12866, still in effect today. Executive Order 12866 is kind of the bible of the regulatory review process. 


So, in the review process, under Executive Order 12866, an agency, before it issues a regulation, submits the regulation to OIRA for review.  OIRA examines the regulation. It ensures that the agency has thought carefully about the benefits that its regulation could accomplish and the costs of that regulation, and has compared the benefits and the costs, in what is known as cost/benefit analysis. 


OIRA also sends the draft regulation to other agencies and other White House offices in the government that may have expertise or other views on the regulation. So, for instance, OIRA might share a regulation about pension plans in the Labor Department with the Department of Health and Human Services, because much health insurance that HHS regulates is linked to pension plans. And so, one task that OIRA review accomplishes is to ensure that agencies aren’t moving at cross-purposes with each other. 


And another task that OIRA review accomplishes is to ensure that the various White House offices — who all have a sense of where the president’s mind is on particular policy issue — have a chance to ensure that each regulation is consistent with the president’s priorities. And this, of course, promotes democratic accountability. So, the OIRA review process serves three purposes. One is to ensure that agencies have carefully considered costs and benefits; two is to ensure that agency action is consistent across the federal government; and three is to ensure that agency action is consistent with the president’s priorities.


So that’s OIRA review, in a nutshell. That brings us up to today, or, rather, a few weeks ago, when President Biden issued an order that amends the OIRA regulatory review process. Now, the first thing that I want to communicate about President Biden’s order is that it retains almost all of President Clinton’s order, which is the order that’s been in effect since the ’90s. And that’s a really significant thing. We live in polarized times. Presidents very often eliminate the measures of their predecessors and replace them with their own. It’s a really big deal, since the early 1990’s, the same executive order, with modifications here and there, has continued in effect and governs the OIRA review process. It’s a really big deal. 


But there are some changes that the Biden executive order, EO 14094, makes. And I want to talk about those. And these may seem like small changes, but, in a regulatory review process that reviews hundreds of incredibly important regulations every year — regulations that have effects of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, for single regulations, very often — any change to the process can be very important. So, I want to talk about some of these important changes. 


The first, and most important change to the order is a change in the threshold for the regulations that OIRA reviews. OIRA does not review every regulation. There are thousands of regulations issued by the federal government each year. OIRA couldn’t possibly review them all. OIRA reviews regulations that are significant. That’s a term,” significant,” that’s used in Executive Order 12866. And there’s a detailed test for when a regulation is significant, and so qualifies for OIRA review. 


And the Biden executive order changes the test in two important ways. One, it raises the dollar threshold for OIRA review from $100 million to $200 million. So, previous to the Biden order, a regulation that had at least $100 million of effects per year automatically qualified for OIRA review. Now, it’s $200 million a year. That’s one change. And we might think that this results in somewhat fewer regulations being reviewed because, presumably, some regulations cause more than $100 million in effects per year, less than $200 million in effects. 


The other change, which I think is more important, is a change to the standard for OIRA to review regulations that are not over the threshold of economic significance; that is to say, regulations that are below $200 million. Before the Biden order, the test was, if a regulation raises novel legal or policy issues, then, generally, OIRA would review. But, under the Biden executive order, OIRA will review only if the OIRA administrator personally determines that review would meaningfully further the purposes of the order or the president’s priorities. 


And that’s an important change, because, while it’s pretty obvious if a regulation raises novel legal or policy issues, it may not be obvious whether OIRA review would meaningfully further — again, that’s the test — would meaningfully further the president’s priorities or the objectives of the executive order. I think, if you say to just about anyone, any of your friends, or a person on the street, “What does it mean to meaningfully further something?” you’d get a lot of different answers. It’s a pretty confusing phrase. 


And so, what this means is that we’ve gone from a pretty clear standard for OIRA review to a pretty unclear standard. And, again, the unclear standard has to be applied by the administrator personally. The administrator has to decide, in each instance of review, under this new provision, that review would meaningfully further the various priorities. Before, OIRA staff could make the decision themselves. And that made things easier on the administrator, and made the stakes lower, basically. So, there are other changes to the order. We can talk about those later.  But those are the two most important ones. So, Karen, I’ll toss it back over to you.


Karen Harned:  Thank you, Paul. Now I’m going to turn it over to Howard, who’s going to talk about the economic side impact of these changes. Howard does have a strong economic background. And so we could think of nobody better to discuss this with us. Howard?


J Howard Beales:  Thanks, Karen. And thanks to the Regulatory Transparency Project for the opportunity to be here today. And thanks to everybody who’s listening. Let me start with the fundamental rationale for cost/benefit analysis. It’s a way to try to assess the effects of a regulation, both good and bad. Cost/benefit analysis doesn’t make a decision. It generates information to put in front of a policymaker who has to make a choice. And that choice remains, even after the cost/benefit analysis is done. 


But the cost/benefit analysis provides objective data on the likely impacts of the choice that is at issue. Its fundamental premise is that what we’re trying to get at is, what do consumers want? What’s the value of these changes, good and bad, to consumers? And what would they be worth if they actually traded in a marketplace? We use consumer preferences as the standard for determining value, rather than somebody else’s preferences. 


One of the biggest changes that is proposed in this guidance on cost/benefit analysis is to let the regulator set those preferences aside. And that violates the fundamental premise of cost/benefit analysis. What it does is to hide what are essentially political judgements in what purports to be a scientific analysis. That reduces accountability. It reduces the value of the information that’s in front of a decision-maker and makes it harder to make good decisions. 


The reason that it lets you set aside consumer preferences is the argument that sometimes consumers make mistakes. And that’s certainly right. Not everybody makes perfect decisions every time. I can, myself, attest to that. But the question is whether those biases that show up in the experimental evidence, usually, are enough to affect market outcomes in a way that changes what actually happens in the marketplace. There’s lots of different biases. Wikipedia lists about 90. 


Some of the most common ones are the status quo bias: people want to keep what they’ve got. Or present bias: people don’t worry enough about future benefits. Or framing effects: if I explain the argument one way, people make one choice, if I explain it a different way, they might make a different choice. Or choice overload: if you give people too many choices, they may not make a choice at all.  


The draft Circular on how to do a cost/benefit analysis says, well, if there’s biases, you may have to adjust what consumers prefer, because that may not be their true preferences. But, even if those biases exist, they may not be reflected in the market. There are two main reasons for that. One of them is competition. We know, for example, that if some consumers are informed, sellers will compete for the informed consumer. And we end up with a competitive market outcome, even though there’s a lot of people who aren’t fully informed. 


The same thing happens with many biases. Sellers compete for the people who are making appropriate decisions. And that is, in turn, what determines the ultimate market outcome. A good example is choice overload. If choice overload is real, why doesn’t a Walmart Superstore, with 150,000 separate choices — why doesn’t it fill up with paralyzed shoppers? And it’s because Walmart is pretty good at organizing the choices in a way that makes it easy for people to make the choice they want. The bias may be real, but it doesn’t show up in the market, and shouldn’t change the way we value things, as a result of that.


The other thing that’s really important is learning. Real consumers — as opposed to consumers in experiments that just last for a couple of hours — real consumers learn from their mistakes, and they correct them. A really good example of that is late fees on credit cards. The evidence is quite clear that when people pay a late fee on their credit card, they’re less likely to pay late fees in the future. They learn from their mistake. It doesn’t always work, because sometimes people are late because they don’t have the money. But sometimes they just overlooked it. And those late fees influence behavior. But it’s not clear that any bias that might be there affects the outcome because consumers learn from any mistakes that might be made.


A second major issue in the proposals that they’re making is the change in the discount rate. Now, the discount rate sounds arcane, but what the discount rate is is a way to compare future benefits to present costs. And that’s what we usually have to do in regulation. Most regulations involve costs up front. They generate a stream of benefits over time. And the question is, how much are those future benefits worth today? Because that’s what we need to compare to the costs of the regulation.


Now, OMB uses two different discount rates. One that’s 3%, and one that’s 7%. Under the proposal, the new discount rate would be only 1.7%. Now, 1.7% may sound pretty close to 3%. And for benefits tomorrow, it is pretty close. It doesn’t make very much difference what you use. But think about a dollar 30 years from now. At 1.7% discount rate, OMB says consumers should be willing to pay 60 cents today to get one dollar in 30 years. I don’t know anybody who will take that deal. 


The 3% discount rate that’s in use now has a somewhat more reasonable answer. It says you should pay 41 cents to get a dollar in 30 years. What gives you a more realistic answer, I think, is the 7% discount rate, which says, “I’ll give you 13 cents for a dollar in 30 years.” But the reduction in the discount rate greatly increases the significance of benefits in the far future that we may well not experience, because, after all, there is some uncertainty about these decisions. 


The other way to think about it is if you think about an appliance with a ten-year useful life, and some change in the design of the appliance that will save you a dollar a year for ten years. OMB says you should be willing to pay $9 for that because you’ll come out 12¢ ahead. And, again, I don’t think anybody would take that deal. The other thing about discount rates is that OMB estimated this 1.7% rate using data over the last 30 years on the long-term 10-year treasury borrowing rate. 


Trouble is, for about half that period, since 2008, the Federal Reserve has kept short-term interest rates near zero. And that’s dragged down long-term interest rates as well. It may be true that long-term rates were falling before the financial crisis in 2008. But they weren’t zero. They weren’t close to zero. And they’re not likely to stay near zero. So, going forward, the discount rate that OMB is proposing to use is too low, and is likely to be increasingly too low, as the effects of this long period of ultra-low interest rates wash out. 


A third thing I’d like to raise is distributional considerations. People in different income groups or different demographic groups may be affected directly or differently by regulatory choices. And we might legitimately care about that. That’s a perfectly reasonable policy judgment to make. But there’s no objective basis to make that comparison. It’s essentially a political choice. And we make political choices in the regulatory process all the time, but we’re open about it. 


OMB, in its draft guidance, is proposing a weighting scheme for people in different income groups that would essentially give more weight to people in lower-income groups, and much less weight to people in higher-income groups. Again, what that does is to hide a political choice in what purports to be a scientific analysis. It’s not. It has no scientific basis, because one thing that’s really clear in economics is we can’t compare my utility to your utility. We care about different things. So, our utilities are not comparable. 


And OMB’s whole argument for weighting people with different incomes differently is that we can somehow compare the benefits to rich people to the benefits to poor people and say they’re worth more to poor people than to rich people. And that just doesn’t follow, as a matter of economics. Importantly, if we’re going to look at income differences, we really need to look at all income, and not just earned income. 


There is a great deal more inequality in earned income than there is in total income, after you take into account transfer payments — which are basically benefits from the government — and the taxes people have to pay. In the lowest income quintile, for example, the average person in that group, in the lowest 20 percent of incomes, earns $4900 a year. What their income is, after transfer payments and taxes, is $49,000 a year. So, it makes a huge difference which income you use in how much weight that group gets. 


The draft guidance doesn’t even address that question. So, I think those are the three main problems: the reliance on behavioral biases to discount real consumer preferences; an inappropriately low discount rate that gives too much weight to benefits in the far future; and a scheme for taking into account distributional effects that hides political choices in what purports to be a scientific analysis.


Karen Harned:  Great.  Thank you so much, Howard. So, I’ve got a couple questions for each of you, and then I have one that I’m going to propose to both of you. But I’ll start with the individual questions. I’ll start with Paul. Paul, so you did a nice, good overview of this. But you did mention there were some other major changes to the regulatory process through this. Are there some others that you think are worthy of highlighting here?


Paul J. Ray:  Yeah. I’ll flag one or two others. In Section 2(b) of the new executive order, there’s actually a very helpful directive to the agencies. And I want to give credit to the Biden administration for that. So, for many, many years, it’s been a great difficulty knowing how to encourage agencies to review their old regulations and eliminate those that are no longer doing good work. When I was administrator of OIRA, an agency discovered that — and this is in 2019 or 2020 — discovered that it still had on the books four regulations that required reporting information to the agency via telegram. So, just about the only person still using telegrams in 2019. 


So, this has been a perennial problem. Congress has tried to encourage agencies to look back at their old regulations and get rid of some of the outdated ones in what’s called the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Agencies have not really responded very well to that directive by Congress. President Obama issued an executive order that dealt with encouraging agencies looking back over their old regulations and that also didn’t have the desired effect. So, this new section, Section 2(b) of the new order, directs agencies to respond to what are called citizen petitions for rulemaking, in a timely fashion. 


There’s a provision in the statute that requires agencies to receive petitions from citizens who ask the agency to make a new rule, either to issue a brand-new regulation, or to rescind one currently on the books. Agencies have a bad habit of sitting on these petitions for years and years. And the new order directs agencies to process those petitions with greater speed. And it also gives the OIRA administrator authority to ask the agencies what they’re doing with their petitions. So, the administrator could ask the agency if it’s taking the petition seriously. 


This is important, because, very often, those who are best situated to understand which regulations are no longer effective are the people who live under the regulations, and not the agency at all. And the same for the people who have the incentives to try to get those regulations changed. It’s awfully easy for the agency to kind of forget about its old regulations. It doesn’t harm the agency any, to do that. But it does often harm the people who have to live under the regulations. So, this new provision, in Executive Order 14094, I think, could be helpful in addressing the problem of encouraging agencies to look back at their old regulations. So, I’m excited about that provision of the new order. 


Karen Harned:  That’s wonderful. And, Howard, I guess my first question to you is, on the cost/benefit analysis, it sounds to me like you think there’s a lot more room in this process for gamesmanship, and that it’s not, maybe, as transparent as currently we see with how agencies do cost/benefit. What I want to, A, confirm, is that, am I articulating what you said correctly? And, if I am, what does that mean for people that are trying to engage the regulatory process, if this new regime were to go forward and if they wanted to challenge or show skepticism about how they would show there might be problems with the cost/benefit analysis, if it is, in fact, less transparent than now?


J Howard Beales:  I think, indeed, it is less transparent. If the agency is setting aside observed market prices that we can all see and all agree on because, as an example that’s mentioned specifically in the Circular, they think those prices are too high because of the manipulative aspects of advertising, well, how do you measure that? There’s not any agreed-upon way to measure that. The agencies are going to have no choice but to make it up. And they will. And they’ll make it up in a way that favors the decision they were inclined to make in the first place.


I think what it means for people in the regulatory process is they’re going to have to look harder at these analyses and see where the political assumptions are buried in what purports to be objective analysis, and bring those to the forefront. Because calling them “analytical” doesn’t really change what they are.


Karen Harned:  Right, right. And, Paul, one change in the new A-4 would eliminate the term “ancillary benefits.” And I know that you’ve expressed some concerns about this. So, I thought maybe you could share those with us.


Paul J. Ray:  Yeah. So, the current version of Circular A-4 requires agencies to break benefits down into two big categories. One category is the direct benefits, or the primary benefits, and the other is the ancillary benefits. The direct, or primary, benefits are benefits that the proposed regulation would achieve, and that the agency thinks were the benefits Congress was aiming for. The ancillary benefits are benefits that regulation would achieve, but they’re not really the ones Congress was thinking about. We might care about them. They might be important. But they weren’t Congress’s goal.


So, Karen, as you mentioned, the draft revisions to A-4 would eliminate the term “ancillary benefits.” And what I worry about is that if we get rid of the term “ancillary benefits,” it would be harder for agencies to explain what are the benefits that Congress was seeking in the statute, and what benefits are kind of accidental. They may be important, but they’re not benefits that Congress was after. 


The distinction is really important, because when agencies regulate, they’re supposed to be pursuing the judgments of Congress. Agencies only exist because Congress creates them. They only have power because Congress gives it to them. And that’s important, because, well, after all, Congress is accountable to the people. And the agency staff are not accountable. So, it’s very important to our scheme of constitutional government that the agencies carry out the intent of Congress, rather than going off on their own missions. ‘


Understanding whether a regulation is pursuing benefits that are the kinds of benefits Congress was interested in, or other kinds of benefits that maybe the agency is interested in, but Congress was not, can be very helpful for both the agency and Congress itself, and, for that matter, for the American people to understand if the agency is following direction set by Congress, or is following its own direction. 


And so, it’s very important that agencies continue to distinguish between benefits that are the kinds Congress was concerned about, and benefits that Congress was not concerned about. The term “ancillary benefits” is helpful in making the distinction. There are other phrases we could use. There are other ways to draw the distinction. So, I hope, in the final version of A-4, regardless of whether the term “ancillary benefit” is retained, that there’s some requirement to distinguish between those two kinds of benefits.


Karen Harned:  Great. And, Howard, as we’re talking about benefits, I do note that there’s been some concerns expressed that I was hoping you might be able to talk about this is a bit more: that, apparently, now, the U.S., with regards to U.S. rulemakings, we don’t necessarily just care about the benefits to our American citizens, but maybe to the global community as a whole. Is that accurate, that that is now introduced through this document? And, if so, what are your thoughts regarding that?


J Howard Beales:  Well, to pick up on Paul’s point, Congress authorized most regulatory agencies to create benefits for the American people. And those are the direct benefits of the regulation. There is no question that some regulations have effects in the rest of the world. And the Circular revisions encourage agencies, at the very least, to include all those benefits as well, much more explicitly than is done today. The whole of global warming arguments, for example, is not benefits to American citizens, but benefits to the rest of the world. That’s the only thing that makes many of those regulatory changes look plausible, on cost/benefit grounds.


Karen Harned:  Right. And I guess — before I close this out with you and then go to one question for each of you all — on the cost side, though, are they as generous with what they’re considering on the cost side of the cost/benefit equation?


J Howard Beales:  They don’t seem to be. It seems to be more about counting benefits in the rest of the world, and costs to American companies. There’s nothing expressed about how you treat costs incurred abroad.


Karen Harned:  Right, right. So, both of you have expressed some concerns that the changes are moving to more subjective criteria than we’re currently operating under in the regulatory process. So, my question to you is this — and I definitely want to start with Paul, because you’ve got the lived experience of what actually happens with OIRA review. But, for the listening audience, how often are rules changed because of OIRA review, currently? And, if this were to go into effect, are you concerned at all that OIRA may become more of a rubber stamp of what agencies are trying to do, moving forward?


Paul J. Ray:  That is the million-dollar question. Or, rather, it’s the billion-dollar question, because OIRA review has such a profound effect on the costs and benefits achieved through regulations. So, I don’t think that the new executive order will make OIRA review a rubber stamp. I do fear that the new order will mean that OIRA reviews fewer regulations. And, of course, if OIRA isn’t reviewing a regulation, it can’t have any positive effect on its cost/benefit analysis. 


It can’t ensure that the regulation does not conflict with what other agencies are doing. And it can’t make sure that the regulation reflects the priorities of the president, and, thus, of the American people. So, I do think there’s a real danger that OIRA review could apply to a significantly smaller number of regulations under this order. That’s my concern. 


Karen Harned:  Thank you. Howard, do you have any thoughts to share?


J Howard Beales:  I agree with that. I think the big risk is that OIRA ends up not reviewing things where it would have made a difference. And the fact that it’s not necessarily able to review something may well lead agencies to do things they wouldn’t otherwise; not necessarily because OIRA would have changed it, but because they would have been embarrassed to lay out their analytical framework that got them there. And if they know they’re going to get less scrutiny, they’re going to be less careful and less considered in the judgments they make about whether to go forward.


Karen Harned:  Right. And then, I guess, for each of you, I’m just curious, we’ve definitely expressed concerns. Overall, though, do you support or oppose this? Or if you want to point out something that’s positive and something that’s negative, I just am kind of curious what your thoughts are, moving forward. Is this “throw the baby out with the bath water”? Or this is something we can work with, but they need to make modifications to what they’re proposing — what your thoughts are on that? Paul, do you want to start?


Paul J. Ray:  Sure. So, my bottom line is that I am very glad that the Biden administration has continued with the overall framework of regulatory review. It’s not a foregone conclusion. As I said at the beginning, the regulatory review process is just the creature of executive order. It’s not in statute. So, any president could, at any time, wake up one morning and say, “I don’t like regulatory review anymore. Let’s get rid of it.” 


The Biden administration has continued the core structure of the regulatory review process that’s been in place for decades now. And I think that’s a great win for our country. So, my bottom line is that I’m glad for that. But, also, as part of my bottom line, I am concerned that the process will be weaker than when it started, because it will apply to fewer important regulations. So that’s my conclusion.


Karen Harned:  Howard, any additional thoughts?


J Howard Beales:  Yeah. We should not have Republican cost/benefit analyses and Democrat cost/benefit analyses. It ought to be one cost/benefit analysis that comes out the same no matter who’s doing it. The changes that are proposed here in how you do the cost/benefit analysis are substantial enough that I think, if and when there is a Republican administration, they’ll be changed again. And I think that’s bad for the process. Because, as Paul says, it really has been notable that we’ve used, fundamentally, the same process since 1980. And everybody’s bought into it. 


It’s important that the analysis has that same degree of buy-in as well. That’s reflected in the regulatory impact analysis. Now, they’re looking for comments on this. It’s not inevitable that that’s where they end up. But, if they do, I think that will be a real loss. And we’ll be back in four or eight or however many years, looking at yet another revision to how you do a cost/benefit analysis.


Karen Harned:  Well, this has been a really great discussion.  I guess, before we close it out, Colton, Paul, you could go first if there’s anything else you would like to raise. And, Howard, if there’s any other final comments you have. I would note on Howard’s part about the comment period being open. It is, and it closes soon. It closes June 6. So, we do encourage those that are interested to please comment. This is very important to how we do rulemaking in this country. But, with that, Paul, any concluding remarks you’d like to share?


Paul J. Ray:  Yeah, absolutely. So, we talked about some pretty complicated concepts that can sound kind of abstruse, inside-the-beltway, as people like to say around here. But it’s important to understand that the changes that we’re discussing are going to change the way that hundreds of regulations are reviewed. And those regulations have real effects on real people. 


This is not a kind of abstract policy debate, but, at the then of the day, a debate about immensely practical, everyday matters. So, if you’re watching this video, or listening to this podcast, and you have views about what we’re describing, I urge you to send your comments in. These regulations are going to affect you and your community and those you love. So please make your voice heard. 


Karen Harned:  Great. And, Howard, anything?


J Howard Beales:  I would second that. Comments are going to be really important in this process, as they try to come to a conclusion about how, exactly, these analyses should be done. And it is important and is going to have significant effects in everyday life. As it stands now, it would have us investing much more today for benefits much farther in the future, as a result of the changes they’re proposing. 


Karen Harned:  Well, this has been fantastic. Thank you all so much. Again, the comment period closes June 6th. And, Colton, I guess, for us, this is a wrap. I turn it back over to you.


Colton Graub:  Thank you so much for joining us today, Howard, Paul, and Karen. We really appreciate your time and your insight on this incredibly important topic. To our audience, if you enjoyed this discussion, please visit to take a look at the rest of our content. And follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with new content as it’s released. Thank you so much.




Conclusion:  On behalf of The Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project, thanks for tuning in the Fourth Branch Podcast.  To catch every new episode when it’s released, you can subscribe on Apple podcasts, Google Play, and Spreaker. For the latest from RTP, please visit our website at  That’s R-E-G project, dot org. 




This has been a FedSoc audio production.

Will Duffield

Policy Analyst

Cato Institute

Jamil N. Jaffer

Founder & Executive Director, National Security Institute

Director, National Security Law & Policy Program and Assistant Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School

Jennifer Huddleston

Technology Policy Research Fellow

Cato Institute

Cyber & Privacy
Emerging Technology

The Federalist Society and Regulatory Transparency Project take no position on particular legal or public policy matters. All expressions of opinion are those of the speaker(s). To join the debate, please email us at [email protected].

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