Ten Thousand Commandments 2014
consumers pay and out of the wages work-ers earn. Precise regulatory costs can never be fully known because, unlike taxes, they are unbudgeted and often indirect.
But scattered government and private data ex-ist about scores of regulations and about the agencies that issue them, as well as data about estimates of regulatory costs and ben-efits. Compiling some of that information can make the regulatory state somewhat more comprehensible. That compilation is one purpose of the annual
Ten Thousand Commandments
report, highlights of which follow:• Among the five all-time-high
page counts, four have occurred under President Obama.• The annual outflow of more than 3,500 final rules—sometimes far above that level—means that 87,282 rules have been issued since 1993. • There were 51 rules for every law in 2013. The “Unconstitutionality Index,” the ratio of regulations issued by agen-cies to laws passed by Congress and signed by the president, stood at 51 for 2013. Specifically, 72 laws were passed in calendar year 2013, whereas 3,659 rules were issued.
This disparity highlights the excessive delegation of lawmaking power to unelected agency officials. • This author’s working paper, “Tip of the Costberg,” which is largely based on federal government data, estimates regu-latory compliance and economic impacts at $1.863 trillion annually.
• U.S. households “pay” $14,974 annu-ally in regulatory hidden tax, thereby “absorbing” 23 percent of the average in-come of $65,596, and “pay” 29 percent of the expenditure budget of $51,442. The “tax” exceeds every item in the budget except housing. More is “spent” on embedded regulation than on health care, food, transportation, entertain-ment, apparel and services, and savings.• The estimated cost of regulation ex-ceeds half the level of the federal budget itself. Regulatory costs of $1.863 trillion amount to 11.1 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), which was estimated at
$16.797 trillion in 2013 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. • When regulatory costs are combined with federal FY 2013 outlays of $3.454 tril-lion, the federal government’s share of the entire economy now reaches 31 percent.• The regulatory “hidden tax” surpasses the income tax. Regulatory compliance costs exceed the 2013 estimated total in-dividual income tax revenues of $1.234 trillion.• Regulatory compliance costs vastly exceed the 2013 estimated corporate income tax revenues of $288 billion and approach corporate pretax profits of $2.19 trillion. • If it were a country, U.S. regulation would be the 10th largest economy, ranked between India and Italy.• U.S. regulatory costs exceed the GDPs of Australia and Canada, the highest-income nations among the countries ranked most free in the annual
Index of Economic Freedom
Economic Freedom of the World
reports.• The Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., jointly estimate that agencies spent $57.3 billion (on budget) to administer and police the federal regulatory enter-prise. Adding the $1.863 trillion in off-budget compliance costs brings the total regulatory enterprise to $1.92 trillion.• The
finished 2013 at 79,311 pages, the fourth highest level in history.
• Federal Register
pages devoted specifically to final rules rose to a record high of 26,417. • The 2013
contained 3,659 final rules and 2,594 proposed rules.• Since the nation’s founding, more than 15,177 executive orders have been is-sued. President Obama issued 181 as of the end of 2013. • President George W. Bush averaged 63 major rules annually during his eight years in office; Obama’s five years so far have averaged 81.
Precise regulatory costs can never be fully known because, unlike taxes, they are unbudgeted and often indirect.