Tag Archives: sba

CEI Podcast for July 7, 2011: How Much Does Regulation Cost?


Have a listen here.

One federal government study says federal regulations cost $1.75 trillion. Another says it’s $62 billion. The difference is almost a factor of 30. Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews compares the two, and talks about the hazards of calculating regulatory costs and benefits. As it turns out, $1.75 trillion might be an understatement.


How to Help Small Businesses

Politicians love small businesses. Almost every campaign stump speech gushes about how important they are for the economy. Never afraid to put our money where their mouth is, politicians even started a Small Business Administration in 1953 to transfer money from taxpayers to small businesses. Today, the SBA’s budget is nearing $1 billion.

Given how much taxpayer money politicians lavish on small businesses, most of elected officials are confident that they are helping, not hurting. They should listen more closely to the consituency they claim to love so much. The Bush-Obama era has been one of ever-increasing regulation. Over 30,000 new rules hit the books under Bush. Obama is regulating at an even faster pace. Many of their rules hurt small businesses.

Paychex, Inc., a payroll service provider that works with many small businesses, recently commissioned a survey. They asked small business owners their thoughts on the economy, and what the biggest obstacles are to growing their businesses. The most common gripe? Regulation. 47 percent of small business owners say that regulations have “slowed or prevented” their business from growing.

The Rochester Business Journal reports that the types of regulations that most concern small business owners are “tax changes (56 percent), health care reform (39 percent) and state regulations in response to budgetary challenges (25 percent). The research found 61 percent of respondents have seen more government regulation over the past five years.”

If Congress is genuinely interested in helping small businesses while speeding up economic recovery, it’s time for a different approach.

Transferring money from taxpayers to small businesses doesn’t help the economy on net. It actually hurts it. One reason is that the prospect of free money encourages small businesses to redirect their energy from entrepreneurship to K Street. Another is that government largesse tends to be given out according to political interests, not consumers’ interests.

Federal regulation alone costs $1.75 trillion to comply with. Congress should lighten the load. 47 percent of small business owners say that regulation has made their business grow more slowly. Letting that 47 percent grow more quickly would go a long way toward getting the economy growing again.

Study: Regulations Cost $1.75 Trillion in 2008

The Small Business Administration released a new study today. “The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms,” by Nicole V. Crain and W. Mark Crain, updates previous studies of the same title from 2005 and 2001.

From the introduction (p. 6):

The findings in this report indicate that in 2008, U.S. federal government regulations cost an estimated $1.75 trillion, an amount equal to 14 percent of U.S. national income. When combined with U.S. federal tax receipts, which equaled 21 percent of national income in 2008, these two costs of federal government programs in 2008 consumed 35 percent of national income.

And keep in mind that those numbers are for 2008. With government spending now closer to 24 percent of GDP, the federal government’s current share of the economy is around 38 percent.

State and local spending and regulations, of course, cost extra.