A new report on the government's regulatory actions was released just before Thanksgiving, and it contains more than 3,300 rules — which the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) estimates will, together with other regulations, cost more than $1.8 trillion to implement on an annual basis.
"Back in the '90s, the federal budget itself was not even $1.8 trillion," said Wayne Crews, vice president of policy for CEI. "Now we have this entire $1.8 trillion hidden tax, you could say, of government compliance and intervention cost imposed in the economy."
Crews reviewed the latest regulation round-up, a twice-annual compilation called the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.
Because the majority of the regulatory costs will be borne by private industry, Crews said that will ultimately mean higher costs for consumers.
According to CEI, the biggest cost comes from environmental regulations, adding up to roughly $379 billion.
There have been several bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to get a better handle on the growing number of regulations and to press for more transparency from the agencies issuing them. According to CEI, 127 federal laws were passed last year, but more than 3,700 regulations were issued.