George Will on Ten Thousand Commandments

If anything good came out of the Bush 43 years, it’s that his two-term onslaught of spending, deficits, regulation, and rapid government growth finally disabused many people of the notion that the GOP will actually enact limited-government policies. It was during this time that George Will, who had long vacillated between Hamiltonian and Madisonian phases throughout his career, rediscovered his inner John Madison. If anything, he has become even more classically liberal during the Obama years. That’s why I was especially pleased that in his latest column, he praises CEI’s own Wayne Crews and the new edition of Ten Thousand Commandments:

Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has recently published his “Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.” This year’s 20th-anniversary edition notes that regulation, the “hidden tax,” costs almost $2 trillion not counted among the official federal outlays. Using mostly government data, Crews concludes:

The cost of regulations ($1.806 trillion) is now more than half the size of the federal budget and 11.6 percent of GDP. This costs $14,768 per U.S. household, equal to 23 percent of the average household income of $63,685. Regulatory compliance costs exceed the combined sum of income taxes paid by corporations ($237 billion) and individuals ($1.165 trillion). Then add $61 billion in on-budget spending by agencies that administer regulations.

Crews’s “Anti-Democracy Index” measures “the ratio of regulations issued by agencies relative to laws passed by Congress.” In 2012, the index was 29, meaning that 29 times more regulations were issued by agencies than there were laws passed by Congress. “This disparity,” Crews writes, “highlights a substantial delegation of lawmaking power to unelected agency officials.”

The entire column is well worth reading. See also a recent Wall Street Journal editorial on Ten Thousand Commandments, and, of course, the study itself.