Red Tapeworm 2014: The Federal Government “Eats” 31 Percent Of The U.S. Economy

This is Part 6 of a series taking a walk through some sections of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State (2014 Edition).

The United States Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates 2013 GDP of $16.797 trillion. The total regulatory cost placeholder of $1.863 trillion I’ve compiled in Tip of the Costberg is equivalent to 11.1 percent of that amount.

So federal regulation “eats” 11 percent of GDP. And there’s more to it since Costberg doesn’t (indeed cannot) capture every compliance cost and economic impact of government intervention nor every adventure in cronyism.

Regulations compared to GDP

Combining regulatory costs with federal FY 2013 outlays of $3.454 trillion (refer back to Red Tapeworm Part 4)) indicates that the federal government’s overall share of the economy is $5.317 trillion, or 31.6 percent.

Reflect on that a little, as policymakers claim they seek a way out of economic doldrums. What exactly is it they are doing if federal government spending and regulation together mean Washington “eats” over 31 percent of the economy.

Note further that this placeholder not include state-level spending and regulation.

Laissez-faire long ago left the building, so let’s hear no more talk of “unrestrained capitalism” from critics of free enterprise. Ours is a mixed economy, the largest government on planet Earth.

Next time, we’ll take a quick look at U.S. regulation compared to the world’s largest economies, as well as to those economies regarded as most free.

Red Tapeworm 2014 Series
Part 1: Guess Which Is the Largest Government on Earth?
Part 2: Tardy Bureaucrats Gone Wild
Part 3: Reckoning the Dollar Cost of Federal Regulation
Part 4: Regulations Catching Up to Government Spending?
Part 5: Regulations Cost More than Federal Income Taxes