Government regulation now costs America $1.88 trillion dollars every year, and almost no one knows it. When it comes to big government, most of the attention is directed toward Washington’s taxing and spending, but in this era of polarization and gridlock, much of the action is happening on the regulatory front.
According to a new report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in 2014, federal agencies issued 16 new regulations for every law passed by Congress. Unelected bureaucracy running roughshod over self-government and individual freedom has become the norm in Washington.
In addition to the growing tax burden on all Americans, regulations cost us another $15,000 per household. They are truly a huge hidden tax on American families and small businesses and a significant contributor to the listless economy and stagnant wages.
There are two phenomenons at work here:
- The Obama Administration is attempting to do through the regulatory process or by executive order what it can’t get passed through Congress.
- Congress and the Executive Branch use the regulatory process to avoid passing costs onto the American people directly. Rather than enacting a big new spending program, they pass regulations to make the private sector do it.
This continues a dangerous trend of using the regulatory process to circumvent Congress. From massive new EPA climate change regulations on the energy, auto, and airline industries to major new labor regulations from the NLRB, the American economy is under regulatory assault.
While Congress’s powers have been usurped, they share significantly in the blame. Too often, Congress writes vague, unclear laws that give government agencies discretion to interpret and write the final rules; often years after the original law had passed. For example, the Dodd-Frank law passed in the aftermath of the financial crisis required 398 separate rule makings and, five years later, they’re still not all complete according to American Action Forum.
How do we fix this regulatory mess?
- Ensure that major new regulations must be voted on by Congress, not handed down by unelected government bureaucrats and agencies.
- Set an overall federal regulatory budget, just as we do with government spending.