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Costs and Burden of Federal Regulations Reach $1.9 Trillion

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Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released the 2017 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State that estimates the size, scope, and burden of federal regulations based on the best government and private information available. The new report finds the burden of federal regulations on the American public reached a record $1.9 trillion last year. That amounts to a hidden tax of nearly $15,000 per household.

Authored by CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr., the report has become a go-to resource for understanding the impacts of federal regulations, which are difficult to quantify, generally unbudgeted, and often indirect. But those impacts of burdensome regulations are very real and increase costs for our businesses and in our communities. Crews also offers recommendations for how members of Congress can increase transparency, accountability, and oversight when it comes to new and existing federal regulations.

“This year’s report offers an important benchmark that will allow us to measure President Trump’s commitment to cutting red tape against his predecessors. If you compare President Trump’s first four months to the same period under President Obama in 2016, Obama issued 1,164 rules, while the Trump administration issued 897 rules. That’s a 23 percent decrease,” said Crews. “More importantly, if you look at ‘significant’ rules that have an estimated impact of $100 million or more, Trump’s agencies have issued 78 percent fewer costly rules during that same period.” 

Highlights from the 2017 edition include:

  • Federal regulations and intervention cost American consumers and businesses $1.9 trillion in 2016. When you add the taxpayer dollars government agencies spent administering these regulations, the total cost of the regulatory state reached $1.963 trillion last year.
  • In 2016, 214 laws were enacted by Congress during the calendar year, while 3,853 rules were issued by agencies. That means, 18 rules were issued for every law enacted last year.
  • Many Americans complain about taxes, but in 2016 the total regulatory costs exceeded the $1.92 trillion the IRS collected in both individual and corporate income taxes.
  • If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s seventh-largest economy, ranking behind India and ahead of Italy.
  • Some 60 federal departments, agencies, and commissions have 3,318 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline. The five most active rulemaking entities–the Departments of the Treasury, Interior, Transportation, Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency–account for 1,428 rules, or 43 percent of all federal regulations being considered.
  • The 2016 Federal Register contains 95,894 pages, the highest level in its history and 19 percent higher than the previous year’s 80,260 pages.

>> View the 10KC fact sheet here.

>> Read the entire 10KC report here.