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10,000 Commandments, 2015 Edition

The Competitive Enterprise Institution (CEI) recently published their 2015 edition of "Ten Thousand Commandments, its annual snapshot of the Federal regulatory state. Here is an abstract of the 92-page report:

"Ten Thousand Commandments is the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual survey of the size, scope and cost of federal regulations, and how they affect American consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy. Authored by CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., it shines a light on the large, growing “hidden tax” of America’s regulatory state.

"The scope of federal government spending, deficits and the national debt is staggering, but so is the impact of federal regulations, which now exceeds half the amount the federal government spends annually. Unfortunately, regulations get too little attention in policy debates because, unlike taxes, they are unbudgeted. They are also difficult to quantify because their effects are often indirect. In Ten Thousand Commandments, Crews compiles available data on regulatory costs and trends. By making the size, extent and cost of Washington’s rules and mandates more comprehensible, Crews underscores the need for more review, transparency and accountability—for both new and existing federal regulations."

And here are the highlights of the 2015 edition of 10,000 Commandments, according to CEI:

  • "Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.
  • "If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking behind Russia and ahead of India.
  • "Economy-wide regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,976 per household – around 29 percent of an average family budget of $51,100. Although not paid directly by individuals, this “cost” of regulation exceeds the amount an average family spends on health care, food and transportation.
  • "The “Unconstitutionality Index” is the ratio of regulations issued by unelected agency officials compared to legislation enacted by Congress in a given year. In 2014, agencies issued 16 new regulations for every law—that’s 3,554 new regulations compared to 224 new laws.
  • "Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed what the IRS is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes for last year—by more than $160 billion.
  • "Some 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have 3,415 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline. The top six federal rulemaking agencies account for 48 percent of all federal regulations. These are the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human Services and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • "The 2014 Federal Register contains 77,687 pages, the sixth highest page count in its history. Among the six all-time-high Federal Register total page counts, five occurred under President Obama.
  • "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."

We've growled frequently of the burden that over-regulation places on the American economy -- including July 16, 2014, March 30, 2014, and June 24, 2013. At the latter, we growled about CEI's 2013 snapshot of Federal regulations.

At the June 24, 2013 Growls, we also noted a study discussed by Ron Bailey in Reason magazine, the following quote:

"The growth of federal regulations over the past six decades has cut U.S. economic growth by an average of 2 percentage points per year, according to a new study in the Journal of Economic Growth. As a result, the average American household receives about $277,000 less annually than it would have gotten in the absence of six decades of accumulated regulations—a median household income of $330,000 instead of the $53,000 we get now." (emphasis added)

For the record, we understand the need for some of today's regulations, but there must be some commonsense applied and the benefits of regulations should generally outweigh their costs.

Growls readers wishing to tell their representatives in Congress what they think of the current Federal regulatory state are encouraged to do so. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County, can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

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