Recently the Mercatus Center hosted an excellent panel discussion on the effects of regulation on entrepreneurs and the poor. I was excited to see the program introduced by my long-ago CEI colleague Eileen Norcross, now Vice President of Policy Research at Mercatus. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) gave the opening remarks, and mentioned some of the small victories we’ve seen in the last year, such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury agreeing that new IRS rules would be subject to review for the first time.
Recently here at CEI, we’ve been celebrating the release of the 25th anniversary edition of our major report on the costs of government regulation, “10,000 Commandments”. In the midst of our own excitement, though, we don’t want to forget to give a shout out to some similar projects that have tried to grapple with quantifying the economic burden of federal rules.
While the president’s initial flurry of executive orders enacting some regulatory reforms was a pleasant surprise, the next president can undo them with the stroke of a pen. Permanent reforms require Congress to pass legislation. With a possible party change looming in one or both chambers of Congress, it might be now or never for substantive regulatory reforms to become law.
It’s May Day, and in the pages of the New York Times appears a paean to the halcyon days of the 1930s, urging a return to the “trust-busting” of that era. The new targets of interventionist ire are not “Robber Barons,” but the “Tech Titans” like Facebook, Google (and its parent, Alphabet), and Apple. As in the past, however, the real solution to dominant companies has been insurgent innovative companies. Facebook displaced MySpace, Apple appears to have displaced Microsoft, and Google knocked off Yahoo after being founded by two immigrants maxing out their credit cards.
The number of new final regulations passed the 1,000 mark last week, with new rules ranging from sending mail to human reliability programs.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute recently released the 25th anniversary edition of Wayne Crews’ widely-cited study “10,000 Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.” It it, Wayne exhaustively documents the cost of the dizzying proliferation of federal rules that impact every aspect of society. Last year the bill came to about $1.9 trillion, or about $15,000 for every household in America.
Since any number with that many zeroes and commas in it is difficult for the human mind to process, let’s put it in a more digestible way.
The big news this week was the release of the 2018 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments. Agencies continued to provide fodder for next years edition with 49 proposed regulations and 61 final regulations last week, ranging from clam insurance to wireless signal boosters.
One of the lessons learned from this year’s “10,000 Commandments” study is that Congress needs to be more involved in the regulatory process. It needs to make sure that agencies only regulate when legislation tells them to, and it needs to vet major new regulations. Over at USA Today, study author Wayne Crews and I make the case that Congress should also establish an annual regulatory budget.
We’ve been publishing and promoting the study for many years, and our strategies and methods have changed as the years have gone by. When we first started our video project in the mid-2000s, we made “10,000 Commandments” one of our first productions. In the video here from 2008, we review the burdens of the regulatory state with talent from the CEI staff and video shot right in our office. Back then YouTube itself was only a couple of years old, and many nonprofit organizations were jumping into the online video space for the very first time.