Federal Regs Cost $1.88 Trillion, More With Obama’s ‘Pen and Phone’ Rules

Burdensome federal regulations cost American taxpayers and businesses a shocking $1.88 trillion annually — far more than the administration estimates — and that doesn’t include the impact of President Obama’s “pen and phone” rulemaking, according to a “Costberg” analysis from the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“The Costberg is large, but in the ‘pen and phone’ era of doing things off the books, the impact of regulation becomes far more ominous given the ‘regulatory dark matter’ we can’t see that doesn’t get counted, and for which no one is accountable. Congress must address this next year,” warned the author of the report, Clyde Wayne Crews, a CEI vice president.

Complying with Energy Department rules and regulations alone had an economic punch of $10 billion, he said in the report provided to Secrets. The economic hurt is $8 billion from USDA rules. And a category called “federal worker mobility restrictions” cost $12 billion.

Crews has made a working project of his “Costberg” report which he regularly updates. In it, he compares the cost of regulations estimated by federal agencies to a much broader list of estimates from multiple federal and independent sources. And even then, he said, it doesn't include hard-to-calculate costs associated with antitrust intervention, regulation of electricity networks or the cost of constrained access to natural resources.

He mocked the federal government’s extreme low-ball on the cost of regulations at $127 billion.

“Too often, regulatory impacts don’t get measured. But further, the disruption of market processes and the derailment of wealth, safety and health creating processes themselves are for the most part wholly neglected. We can say, circa 2015, according to back of the envelope surveys, roundups and placeholders, with gaps big enough to fit the beltway through, that up to $1.882 trillion annually — and in many categories perhaps considerably more — is a defensible assessment,” he wrote in his report.

His report is aimed to force Congress to pay attention to the real costs of regulation beyond the bare bones figures produced by the Office of Management and Budget.

“What I’m trying to achieve is to for policymakers to always operate from the stance that, if we’re missing regulation, we are missing the biggest part of government’s impact in the economy,” he said. “We ignore over-regulation increasingly at our peril, and we need more information and accountability.”