- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just released its annual findings about government regulations and the real toll they take on the nation. The ambitious and exacting research reveals that federal regs and intervention cost U.S. consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in lost economic productivity and higher prices last year.

The study is appropriately titled “The Ten Thousand Commandments.” It outlines the size, scope and cost of those many rules, framing them as the “hidden tax” of America’s regulatory state.

The toll is “staggering,” says author Clyde Wayne Crews, vice president of policy at the non-profit organization. The findings reinforce a need for review, transparency and accountability, both among the agencies and in Congress, he notes.

“If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking behind Russia and ahead of India,” the analysis states. This regulatory costs works out to be an average of $14,976 per household, or 29 percent of an average family budget of $51,100.”

The current administration appears to be much more regulation-happy than its predecessor. The George W. Bush administration averaged 62 major regulations annually over eight years, while the Obama administration has averaged 81 major regulations annually over six years.

And there’s much more to come, the research found. Sixty federal departments, agencies and commissions currently have 3,415 new regulations already in development, and waiting in the pipeline. The top six federal rulemaking agencies account for 48 percent of all federal regulations. The culprits? The study identifies them as the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human Services plus Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr. Crews’ 92-page report is available for free online. Find it here.

“Federal agencies do not answer to voters. Yet in a sense, regulators and the administration, rather than Congress, do the bulk of U.S. lawmaking. Years of unbudgeted growth of the federal regulatory system are worrisome when no one can claim with assurance that regulatory benefits exceed costs,” Mr. Crews says.

“But agencies are not the only culprits. For too long, Congress has shirked its constitutional duty to make the tough calls. Instead, it delegates substantial lawmaking power to agencies and then fails to ensure that they deliver benefits that exceed costs.”

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