American Elephants

Obama’s Regulations Add $14,768 to Your Family Budget! by The Elephant's Child

For twenty years, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has tracked the growth of new regulations. In the 20th anniversary edition this week, the latest annual Index of Federal Rules shows that — Team Obama is now the red tape record holder. Are you surprised?

The pages in the Code of Federal Regulation hit an all-time high of 174,545 pages in 2012, an increase of more than 21% in the last decade. Mr Crews estimates that in 2012 the cost of  federal rules exceeded $1.8 trillion, roughly equal to the GDP of Canada. This is what American business has to cope with. The costs are embedded in nearly everything Americans buy. Mr. Crews calculates the costs to add up to about $14,768 per household. After housing, red tape costs are the second largest item in the family budget.

It’s not just the cost of the regulatory burden, there are that many regulations that must be obeyed, or the over-regulation will lead to over-criminalization. You won’t know what rule you broke until the swat-team comes to get you.

Every so often some member of Congress will gather up a selection of silly regulations and make speeches, or perhaps even write a bill. But there is no regular avenue for disposing of unnecessary regulation. If you remember, there was a fuss raised a while back, over business’s protests about excessive regulation. President Obama said he’d assign all his cabinet officers to find regulations that they could get rid of to save money. Mr. Obama got considerable mileage out of the farm rule that treated spilled milk as a hazardous oil spill (butterfat, I guess).  Since he used that one example several times, I assume that there really weren’t any others removed from the Federal Register.

Last year, 4,062 regulations were at various stages of implementation in the nation’s capitol. The government completed work on 1,172, an increase of 16% over the previous year, which was a 40% increase in the year before that. President Obama ‘s record 78,961 pages churned out in 2012 mean that he has posted three of the four greatest paperwork years on record.

“Economically significant” rules are those that will cost at least $100 million each. The current administration is in a class by itself. The bureaucracy finished up 57 such rules in 2012 and another 167 are in the pipeline.  They come from ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and the EPA’s effort to use regulation to impose an anti-carbon-fuels agenda that Congress would not pass.

It’s the pure totalitarian impulse, of course. Nothing so frightens the Left as individual freedom. Give the people an inch and there’s no telling what they might do. Control is the goal. How can they enforce equality, social justice and make sure that” everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules,” if they don’t carefully spell out just what the rules are.

What we need is a mechanism to get rid of useless rules, outdated rules, unneeded rules, and intrusive, damaging rules. Much-needed housekeeping. The underlying problem is that Congress likes to dispose of problems with massive bills that include all sorts of unrelated amendments, things that couldn’t have been passed alone, and the old ‘nobody’s read the whole thing’ problem. They say that this agency will and that department shall, but they don’t actually make laws themselves — they distribute it to the bureaucracy who will make the rules that fill up the Federal Register. It’s how we get Big Government and why it keeps getting Bigger.


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