Ten Thousand Commandments

An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State

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President George W. Bush’s federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009 proposed $3.107 trillion in discretionary, entitlement, and interest spending. This was the first-ever $3 trillion budget in the United States. Many other countries’ governments consume more of the national output than the government does, but in absolute terms, ours is the largest government on planet Earth. President Bush was also the first president to deliver a $2 trillion federal budget, as recently as 2002.

Those costs fully convey the federal government’s on-budget scope, and they are alarming enough in themselves. But the government’s reach extends well beyond the taxes that Washington collects and the deficit spending at which it excels. Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year over and above the
costs of official federal outlays.

Firms generally pass the costs of some taxes along to consumers. Similarly, some business regulatory compliance costs trickle down to consumers. Exact regulatory costs can never be fully known; unlike taxes, they are unbudgeted and often indirect. But scattered government and private data exist on scores of regulations and the agencies that issue them, as well as on regulatory costs and benefits, some of which can be compiled to make the regulatory state somewhat more comprehensible. That compilation is one purpose of the annual Ten Thousand Commandments report.

For more information, visit: cei.org/10kc