Tag Archives: regulation without representation

Substantive Reform Must Include Cutting Regulatory Burdens

Spending, deficits, and taxes are getting all the attention from reformers in both parties. In today’s Investor’s Business Daily, Wayne Crews and I argue that regulation is not to be forgotten:

Regulations cost the average business $8,086 per employee per year. Small businesses are especially hard-hit. Firms with fewer than 20 employees pay $10,585 per employee per year for regulatory compliance, according to the Crains’ report. When hiring employees becomes more expensive, fewer get hired. No wonder unemployment is so persistent.

We also offer up some reform ideas:

One reform is to purge the books of obsolete and clearly harmful rules. There is no need for Washington to have rules still on the books for a Y2K crisis that never even materialized. Nor is there any need for it to regulate the size of holes in Swiss cheese, which it does in great detail.

President Obama should appoint an annual bipartisan commission to comb through the Code of Federal Regulations and recommend rules for elimination. Congress would then be required to vote up-or-down on the package without amendment.

Read the article here; for more intellectual ammunition, see the just-released 2011 edition of Wayne’s “Ten Thousand Commandments” study.

Regulation without Representation

Congress never actually votes on most regulations. Over 3,500 regulations hit the books most years. But Congress usually passes fewer than 200 bills per year. As Wayne Crews and I explain in today’s Investor’s Business Daily, this is regulation without representation.

Only Congress, and not agencies, have the power to legislate. But that is exactly what is happening now. Bills to regulate carbon emissions, regulate the Internet, and more all failed in Congress. But agencies are enacting rules. If you can’t legislate, regulate. This is wrong.

It allows politicians to escape blame for unpopular or controversial regulations. Don’t blame me, blame bureaucrats! It also gives agencies little incentive to rein in their worst impulses. If they can do whatever they want, they will work to expand their budget and authority.

The first step in solving the problem of regulation without representation is requiring Congress to vote on major regulations. Not all regulations — 3,500 votes is a bit much. And agencies do deserve some independence on administrative affairs and minor detail work.  But requiring 200 votes on major rules costing at least $100 million each is the least Congress should do.

The REINS Act, recently introduced by Rep. Geoff Davis and Sen. Rand Paul, would do just that. There are many facets to regulatory reform. There is much more to do. But putting a damper on regulation without representation is a good start.

You can read Wayne’s and my article here.

Ten Thousand Commandments

Last year Americans paid $989 billion in income taxes (Happy Tax Day!). What you probably don’t know is that federal regulations cost as much as the income tax plus another quarter-trillion — $1.24 trillion in all.

Wayne Crews catalogues the damage in the freshly-released 2010 edition of “Ten Thousand Commandments.” Well worth a read.

If you don’t have time to read the full study, Wayne and I summarize the main findings over at AOL News.

A few numbers you should be aware of: 3,503 new regulations passed last year. Hardly any were repealed. More than 95 percent of the cost is off-budget, since the private sector pays for regulatory compliance costs. That means the burden of government is about a third higher than what it spends — in all, about 30 percent of the economy goes to paying for the federal government