Clinton Budget Is Not The Full Story

Washington, DC, February 7, 2000 – President Clinton’s new fiscal year 2000 budget proposes to spend $1.84 trillion. While that enormous amount would absorb 19 percent of this year’s forecast gross domestic product, even that only tells part of the picture.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s upcoming report Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Policymaker’s Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, 2000 Edition, notes that federal, health, safety, environmental and economic regulations can add an additional $758 billion to official on-budget costs every year.

These regulatory compliance costs are the hidden taxes, the off-budget government that will go unacknowledged during today’s release of the federal budget.

“The $700 billion in regulatory costs that the federal budget glosses over exceeds Canada’s entire GNP, which was $595 billion in 1997,” noted Wayne Crews, Director of Competition and Regulatory Policy at CEI.

As of October 1999, federal departments, agencies and commissions were at work on or had just issued 4,538 new rules and regulations. Of these, 137 were acknowledged to be “economically significant,” meaning they will have annual economic impacts of over $100 million each. The number of economically significant rules increased 17 percent over the prior year’s 117.

“Small businesses are particularly at risk in the face of off-budget government. Of the 4,538 new rules, 963 are expected by agencies to have notable impacts on small businesses, who, while arguably the economic engines upon which much of America’s prosperity depends, are less able to shoulder heavy regulatory burdens,” commented Crews.

“At the very least, future federal budgets need to acknowledge and document the ‘off-budget’ costs of regulation. Only then will Americans have the real truth about the federal government’s reach in their lives,” Crews concluded.

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.