More than Taxing and Spending

The cost of government is far more than it taxes and spends. Regulatory costs count, too. One of our biggest jobs here at CEI is to make that point. As long as the regulatory state continues to grow, this becomes more important with each passing year. Fortunately, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s editorial board agrees, as they opined yesterday:

The Competitive Enterprise Institute ( says that regulating rather than legislating pays for programs with private-sector resources rather than tax dollars. CEI says regulation is “off-budget taxation” — and business owners, workers and families ultimately foot the bill through higher taxes and/or lower wages.

CEI’s new 20th-anniversary edition of its “Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State” estimates yearly compliance costs at $1.8 trillion — exceeding half of total federal expenditures for the first time, as well as Canada’s or Mexico’s GDP. And at $14,678 per family, red tape trails only housing among typical household costs.

Read the whole thing here. See also The Wall Street Journal’s take here, and the new Ten Thousand Commandments report here.