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Federal Regulation Cost Reaches $1.885 Trillion

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The annual report Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State released today by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) describes a $1.885 trillion hidden tax on American consumers and the U.S. economy in 2015 due to federal regulations and intervention. Authored by CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., the report has become a go-to resource on federal regulations’ impact on the American public. Crews offers recommendations for how members of Congress can increase transparency and accountability when it comes to new and existing federal regulations.

“The federal government has become very savvy in hiding costs by expanding their reach beyond taxes into regulations,” said Crews. “Unfortunately, regulatory costs get little attention in policy debates, because unlike taxes, they are difficult to quantify because they are unbudgeted and often indirect. But the impacts of burdensome regulations are very real and increase costs for consumers and businesses, limiting productivity and a thriving free market.”

Highlights in the 2016 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments include:

  • Federal regulation is a hidden tax that amounts to nearly $15,000 per U.S. household each year.
  • In 2015, 114 laws were enacted by Congress during the calendar year, while 3,410 rules were issued by agencies. Thus, 30 rules were issued for every law enacted last year. The average “Unconstitutionality Index,” the ratio of regulations issued by agencies to laws passed by Congress and signed by the president, for the decade has been 26. This disparity highlights the delegation of lawmaking power to unelected agency officials.
  • Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed the $1.82 trillion that the IRS is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes from 2015.
  • Some 60 federal departments, agencies, and commissions have 3,297 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline. The top five federal rulemaking agencies account for 41 percent of all federal regulations. These are the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human Services, and Transportation.
  • The 2015 Federal Register contains 80,260 pages, the third highest page count in its history. Of the seven all-time-highest Federal Register total page counts, six occurred under President Obama.
  • The George W. Bush administra­tion averaged 62 major regulations annually over eight years, while the Obama administration has averaged 81 major regulations annually over seven years.

>> Read the complete 10KC summary here

>> Read the entire report here