Bush Budget Ignores Hidden Costs
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Washington, D.C., February 4, 2008—The White House has released President Bush’s budget for the federal government, but its record-breaking $3.1 trillion price tag ignores the substantial costs imposed on Americans by federal regulations. According to Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews, regulatory costs now amount to over $1.1 trillion annually. Rules themselves number over 3,700 each year—some big, some trivial—but with too little accountability.
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“While the awesome scope of spending in the 2009 federal budget causes ample distress, the unbudgeted, and mostly hidden, costs of complying with tens of thousands of government rules is perhaps worthy of more alarm,” said Crews. “Regulatory costs mount each year, yet unlike congressional approval of new programs or taxes, few mechanisms hold lawmakers accountable for the costs imposed on us as consumers and business owners.”
The costs of federal regulations are detailed in the report Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State. The most recent edition found that annual regulatory costs now exceed both individual income taxes ($998 billion) and all pretax corporate profits ($1.05 trillion). In addition to the off-budget costs to individuals and corporations, the Mercatus Center notes that the federal government also spends $41 billion a year enforcing the rules.
“Americans deserve better accounting and justification for the burdens imposed,” said Crews. “Reformers should make regulatory costs as transparent as possible through annual cost reporting, and improvements that allow voters to hold Congress responsible for the regulatory state, such as by ensuring a congressional vote on major or controversial agency rules before they are finalized.”
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