Right Hooks

A Year's Worth of Taxes Wouldn't Fund Federal Regs

Big Brother rules cost Americans $1.885 trillion in 2015.

Jordan Candler · May 5, 2016

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s 2016 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments was released this week, and it’s depressingly similar to last year’s study. $1.885 trillion, or $15,000 per American household — that was the remarkably high cumulative financial burden of federal regulations in 2015. Moreover, says CEI, “114 laws were enacted by Congress during the calendar year, while 3,410 rules were issued by agencies. Thus, 30 rules were issued for every law enacted last year.”

“Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed the $1.82 trillion that the IRS is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes from 2015,” the study notes. The Obama administration is averaging about 20 additional major regulations every year compared to Bush (81 vs. 62 annually).

However, a separate new Mercatus Center study, which, as we explained last week, “analyzed data from 1977 through 2012 to discover the cumulative costs of regulations (or, more accurately, taxes by a different name)” by examining “data across 22 industries,” puts the economic cost of federal regulations at $4 trillion, good for the fourth-largest GDP in the world. “In plain English,” we wrote, “if regulations had remained steady at 1980 levels, our economy would have been 25% — or $4 trillion — larger in 2012 than it was.”

As Investor’s Business Daily observes, “The problem is that these costs never show up in any federal budget as a cost of government. They just get hidden in higher prices, lower take home pay, more unemployment, less opportunity.” The best stimulus the government can give the economy is to tame the behemoth monster known as Regulation U.S.A.

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