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Cost and Burden of Federal Regulations = $1.9 Trillion

Two weeks ago, on May 31, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released their 2017 edition of "Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State that estimates the size, scope, and burden of federal regulations based on the best government and private information available."

According to CEI, "the burden of federal regulations on the American public reached a record $1.9 trillion last year. That amounts to a hidden tax of nearly $15,000 per household." CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews authored the report.

Here are the highlights from the 2017 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments (emphasis in  the original):

  • Federal regulations and intervention cost American consumers and businesses $1.9 trillion in 2016. When you add the taxpayer dollars government agencies spent administering these regulations, the total cost of the regulatory state reached $1.963 trillion last year.
  • In 2016, 214 laws were enacted by Congress during the calendar year, while 3,853 rules were issued by agencies. That means, 18 rules were issued for every law enacted last year.
  • Many Americans complain about taxes, but in 2016 the total regulatory costs exceeded the $1.92 trillion the IRS collected in both individual and corporate income taxes.
  • If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s seventh-largest economy, ranking behind India and ahead of Italy.
  • Some 60 federal departments, agencies, and commissions have 3,318 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline. The five most active rulemaking entities–the Departments of the Treasury, Interior, Transportation, Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency–account for 1,428 rules, or 43 percent of all federal regulations being considered.
  • The 2016 Federal Register contains 95,894 pages, the highest level in its history and 19 percent higher than the previous year’s 80,260 pages.

A one-page fact sheet of the report is available here.

The report has numerous and helpful tables and figures. For example, Table 3 provides the regulatory costs for small, medium, and large firms in 2012. While the cost for all federal regulations per employee for all firms was $9,991, the cost for firms with fewer than 50 employees was $11,724, for firms with 50-99 employees was $10,664, but dropped to $9,083 for firms with more than 100 employees.

The entire 85-page report can be found here. You can download the entire report or the executive summary, introduction, or any one of the eight chapters.

Growls readers are encouraged to take a few minutes to write or call their Congressional representatives. Tell them what you think about the cost burden of federal regulations. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. 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

And ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

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