Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State

Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State

Ten Thousand Commandments is an annual report by CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews on the growing compliance costs of federal regulations. The purpose of the report is to hold legislators and regulators accountable for the regulatory burdens they impose on American business owners, workers, and families.

About the report: The federal government primarily funds its programs in three ways. The first is to raise taxes to pay for new programs. The second is to borrow money to pay for them (with a promise to pay back that borrowed money, with interest, from taxes collected in the future).

The third way the government can accomplish its goals is to regulate. That is, rather than pay directly and book the expense of a new initiative, it can require that the private sector and lower-level governments pay. By regulating, the government can carry out desired programs but avoid using tax dollars to fund them. This process sometimes allows Congress to escape accountability and to blame agencies for costs. Since disclosure and accountability for regulation are limited, policymakers have little incentive to care about the extent of regulatory costs or where those costs stand in relation to ordinary government spending. Regulatory costs are unbudgeted and lack the formal presentation to the public and media to which ordinary federal spending is subject, and thus regulatory initiatives allow the government to direct private-sector resources to a significant degree without much public fuss. In that sense, regulation can be thought of as off-budget taxation.

-- > Like Ten Thousand Commandments on Facebook

--> Follow 10kc on Twitter

View the 2013 report:

Ten Thousand Commandments 2013: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State

Highlights from this year's report:

• Total costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.806 trillion in 2012. For the first time, this amounts to more than half of total federal spending. It is more than the GDPs of Canada or Mexico.

• This is the 20th anniversary of Ten Thousand Commandments. In the 20 years of publication, 81,883 final rules have been issued. That’s more than 3,500 per year or about nine per day.

• The Anti-Democracy Index – the ratio of regulations issued to laws passed by Congress and signed by the president – stood at 29 for 2012. That’s 127 new laws and 3,708 new rules – or a new rule every 2 ½ hours.

• Regulatory costs amount to $14,678 per family – 23 percent of the average household income of $63,685 and 30 percent of the expenditure budget of $49,705 and more than receipts from corporate and personal income taxes combined.

• Combined with $3.53 trillion in federal spending, Washington’s share of the economy now reaches 34.4 percent.

>> View the May 20, 2013 Wall Street Journal editorial spotlight on this year's report.

Ten Thousand Commandments Archives

Ten Thousand Commandments 2013 in PDF

10KC 2012 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2011 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2010 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2009 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2008 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2007 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2006 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2005 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2004 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2001 (full study in PDF)

10KC 2000 (full study in PDF)

10KC 1999 (full study in PDF)

10KC 1998 (full study in PDF)

10KC 1996 (full study in PDF)