- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The national debt is not the only thing which is measured in trillions of dollars. The cost of federal regulations and their financial impact on American consumers is also heavy according to “Ten Thousand Commandments,” a substantial new report released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute on Tuesday.

The burden of implementing and maintaining endless government rules and requirements and the eventual effect on citizens amounts to an estimated $1.9 trillion “hidden tax of regulation” according to study author Wayne Crews, vice president of policy at the nonprofit organization.

“This is greater than the corporate and personal income taxes combined,” Mr. Crews noted in the research, which is based on available government data. “If the cost of federal regulations were a country, it would be the 9th largest, behind India and just ahead of Canada.

“Each U.S. household’s estimated regulatory burden is at least $14,615 annually on average,” he said. “That amounts to 20% of the average pre-tax household budget and exceeds every item in that budget, except housing.

“Regulatory burdens can operate as a hidden tax,” Mr. Crews said. “Unlike on-budget spending, regulatory costs are largely obscured from public view. They are the least disciplined aspects of government activity, which can make regulation overly appealing to lawmakers.”

Mr. Crews, who has authored the annual study for 26 years, calls for more review, transparency and accountability for new and existing federal regulations.

The study cites the Trump administration for its efforts to trim down federal regulations, one of President Trump’s initial campaign promises.

“The 2019 report charts new territory as it updates the progress made as a result of President Trump’s efforts to cut red tape via executive order, the most aggressive effort at regulatory reform in over a quarter century,” the study said, though it offers a caution.

“The long-term agenda of the government’s executive agencies could easily stray back toward bureaucratic overreach without permanent reform by Congress,” the study noted.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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