Report Reveals Hidden Tax of Federal Regulation Reaches $1.88 Trillion

In the latest edition of Ten Thousand Commandments released today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) reveals the latest on the large, growing “hidden tax” of America’s regulatory state. The annual report indicates a $1.88 trillion hit to Americans consumers and the U.S. economy in 2014 due to federal regulations and intervention. Authored by CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., the report analyzes the size, scope and cost of federal regulations, how they affect the American public, and offers recommendations for how members of Congress can increase transparency and accountability when it comes to new and existing federal regulations.

“The federal government’s reach extends well beyond Washington’s taxes, deficits, and bor­rowing,” said Crews. “Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations affect the economy by hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Regula­tory compliance costs borne by businesses will find their way into the prices that con­sumers pay, affect the wages workers earn, and lead to lower levels of growth and pros­perity.”

“Policymakers and regulators fail to recognize that, while businesses want to ‘create jobs,’ that goodwill doesn’t change the reality that more jobs mean more costs,” continued Crews. “If businesses are burdened by unpredictable regulations coming their way, it is not surprising that they don’t expand.”

Other highlights in the 2015 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments include:

  • Economy-wide regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,976 per household – around 29 percent of an average family budget of $51,100. Although not paid directly by individuals, this “cost” of regulation exceeds the amount an average family spends on health care, food and transportation.  
  • If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking behind Russia and ahead of India.
  • In 2014, agencies issued 3,554 new regulations compared to 224 new laws. That's a pace of 16 regulations for every law.
  • Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed what the IRS is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes for last yearby more than $160 billion.
  • The 2014 Federal Register contains 77,687 pages, the sixth highest page count in its history. Among the six all-time-high Federal Register total page counts, five occurred under President Obama.
  • Some 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have 3,415 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline. The top six federal rulemaking agencies account for 48 percent of all federal regulations. These are the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human Services and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

>> Read the complete 10KC summary here.

>> Read the entire report here.