This is Independence Day? Federal Regulatory Burden Reaches New Heights

This is Independence Day? Federal Regulatory Burden Reaches New Heights

Proliferation of Rules Documented in Newest “July 4th” Report
June 30, 2005

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Richard Morrison, 202.331.2273


Washington, D.C., June 30, 2005—A new Competitive Enterprise Institute report on federal regulation finds that while the number of new rules declined slightly from 2003, costs are at record levels compared to other economic measures. Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr., author of the report Ten Thousand Commandments, reports that regulatory costs exceed all pretax corporate profits ($745 billion) and all personal income taxes ($765 billion). The number of pages in the Federal Register, where new regulations are published, has increased 6.2 percent to 75,676 pages—an all-time record.


President Bush proposed $2.57 trillion in discretionary, entitlement, and interest spending in the federal budget. Although those costs do fully account for the on-budget scope of the federal government, environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations add over $870 billion in off-budget costs every year.


“As we approach Independence Day this weekend, anyone who looks at the current size and complexity of the federal regulatory state is struck by the growth of government since the nation’s founding,” said Crews. “In the republic’s early days the kind of intrusive, detailed rules so prevalent today simply didn’t exist. In the years since, the creep of new regulations has resulted in an unwieldy mass of expensive rules that attempt to control things which would have shocked the Founding Fathers.”


There are now 4,266 new rules and regulations at various stages of implementation, with 135 of them expected to have annual economic impacts of over $100 million each. The number of these “economically significant” rules increased 6 percent between 2003 and 2004.


“At the very least, future federal budgets need to acknowledge and document the ‘off-budget’ costs of regulation. Only then will Americans have the real truth about the federal government’s reach in their lives,” Crews concluded.


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.