A mandate that is off the rails
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.”