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Hiding $1.2 Trillion in Taxes

An op-ed in Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) last week by Wayne Crews and Ryan Young of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) points out:

“Compliance costs from thousands of regulations — pouring out from over 60 departments, agencies and commissions — amounted to $1.17 trillion in 2008. The federal government spends an additional $49.1 billion just to administer and enforce its rules. This figure is on par with federal income tax revenue ($1.2 trillion) and Canada's entire 2006 GDP ($1.265 trillion).”

As Crews and Young point out:

“. . . today's deficits are tomorrow's tax increases. And more spending is usually followed by more regulation. The Bush spending explosion was accompanied by more than 30,000 new regulations.”

But wait, isn’t it Congress’ job to make the rules? Crews and Young write:

“Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution says, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress." Much of that power has been given away to federal agencies. Congress passed 285 laws last year, compared with 3,830 final rules from agencies. The alphabet soup of agencies should answer to Congress for the regulatory burdens they impose.”

The two authors argue that the economy needs “a deregulatory stimulus,” and outline “three fronts in the battle to achieve it. The first is disclosure. While CEI publishes their annual Ten Thousand Commandments report, but Crews and Young say the federal budget or the Economic Report of the President “should include in-depth chapters exploring the regulatory state.” A second would be to install sunset provisions so that obsolete rules are eliminated. Finally, they argue that Congress “reassert its lawmaking authority.”

As Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek points out, “A tax by any other name . . . ,” and thanks for the HT.

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