It may have been a short work week, but it was still a busy one in the world of regulation:
- 68 new final rules were published this week. That’s a new rule every 2 hours and 28 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All in all, exactly 500 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year. If this keeps up, 3,327 new rules will hit the books in 2012.
- 1,545 new pages were added to the 2012 Federal Register this week, for a total of 11,367 pages. At this pace, the 2012 Federal Register will run 76,804 pages.
- There were 15 significant actions this week, as defined by Executive Order 12866. Of those, one is an “economically significant” final rule. That means it costs $100 million or more per year.
- So far this year, 84 final rules affect small businesses. 16 of them are significant rules.
- Economically significant rules published so far in 2012 cost at least $15.01 billion. Two of the nine rules do not have cost estimates. We assume that rules lacking this basic transparency measure cost the bare minimum of $100 million per year. The true cost is almost certainly higher.
Here are highlights from final rules that passed this week:
- The Small Business Administration is changing the size requirements for certain types of businesses to qualify as small. By raising some size limits, the SBA hopes to increase the amount of money that it transfers from taxpayers to private businesses.
- The EPA issued a 123-page final rule designating and revising critical habitats for two types of minnow, each measuring less than 3 inches in length.
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has revised its fireworks approval policy.
- We dare you to read all the way through this regulation that was published today to implement part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.
For more data, updated daily, go to TenThousandCommandments.com.
Have a listen here.
Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews talks about why 2011 was a record year for both new regulations and their cost. He also talks about his efforts to make the opaque regulatory state more transparent. Besides his annual “Ten Thousand Commandments” report, Wayne has started a new TenThousandCommandments.com website to update regulatory data in real time. There is a also a 10KC Twitter account and a Facebook page to make it as easy as possible to keep an eye on what regulatory agencies are up to.
Wayne Crews and I have a piece in today’s Sacramento Bee summarizing the main findings of Wayne’s “Ten Thousand Commandments” study. We also point out that regulatory costs are not limited to the $1.75 trillion it takes to comply with them:
The total cost of federal regulation is $1.75 trillion. That’s true in terms of money. But money isn’t everything. Regulation also has opportunity costs. Workers spend millions of man-hours every year filling out forms and following procedures. That time could be spent on other things instead, such as finding ways to lower costs, improve quality and increase worker productivity. When there’s too much regulation, progress and innovation slow down.
There is a second opportunity cost that is often overlooked. Companies don’t sit idly by when regulators propose new rules. They try to influence the process. Most companies, especially larger ones, often favor new regulations in their industries. They will pay lobbyists a lot of money to influence the rules in a favorable way – say, by handicapping a competitor.
The 2011 edition of Wayne Crews’ “Ten Thousand Commandments” was released today. The annual study gives a big-picture view of the regulatory state. You can read it here. Some of the main findings:
-Federal regulations cost $1.75 trillion per year. That’s equivalent to about half of federal spending. Government’s cost is actually about 50 percent bigger than most people think.
-Agencies issued 3,752 final rules in 2010. At that pace, a new rule comes into effect every two hours or so.
-Another 4,225 rules are in the pipeline right now.
-The Federal Register hit an all-time high 81,405 pages in 2010.
-Economically significant regulations are way up. These are defined as rules that have over $100 million of economic impact. There were 224 in 2010. That’s a 22 percent increase over 2009’s 184.
Have a listen here.
CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews talks about why antitrust actually hurts competition, and offers some ideas for regulatory reform based on his recent articles for BigGovernment.com and The Washington Times, and on his annual Ten Thousand Commandments report.
Posted in Antitrust, CEI Podcast, Economics, regulation
Tagged 10000 commandments, 10kc, Antitrust, biggovernment.com, cei, ceipodcast, podcast, regulation, regulatory reform, ten thousand commandments, washington times, wayne crews
And it’s on pace to hit a near-record 80,447 pages. Over at the Daily Caller, I crunch some of the numbers and offer up some Ideas for regulatory reform, inspired by Wayne Crews’ 10,000 Commandments.
-The Federal Register’s accelerating pace is due to two things. One is implementation of the health care and financial regulation bills. The other is that, fearing a party change in Congress, lame-duck regulating may have already begun.
-Keeping Federal Register page counts in check is important. Keeping the contents of those pages in check is even more important. Comprehensive regulatory reform involves much, much more.
-Such as five-year sunsets for all new regulations unless specifically reauthorized by Congress.
-And a comprehensive look at the regulatory state in each year’s Economics Report of the President.
-And a bipartisan commission to comb through the books for harmful or obsolete regulations. They would hand their recommendations for repeal to Congress for an up-or-down vote, without amendment.
Posted in Publications, regulation
Tagged 10000 commandments, daily caller, dea, deregulate to stimulate, drug enforcement administration, federal register, reform regulation, regulation, regulatory reform, regulatory reform commission, sunsets, ten thousand commandments, wayne crews
Tax Freedom Day was April 9. But when you factor in the cost of regulation (on which more here), it turns out we work nearly half the year just to pay for government. Wayne Crews and I give the details, as well as some ideas for regulatory reform, over at Fox Forum. The three we give are:
-Disclosure. Each year’s federal budget, or the annual “Economic Report of the President,” should include in-depth chapters exploring the regulatory state, along the lines of Ten Thousand Commandments. The more the public and policymakers know about regulatory costs, the more likely they are to do something about them.
-Eliminate obsolete rules. Congress should task the Office of Management and Budget with identifying rules to eliminate each year. Congress should also implement its own bipartisan packages of cuts to be voted on, up or down, without amendment. Mandatory 5-year sunsets for all new rules would also help. Congress can reauthorize useful rules, while obsolete or harmful ones would automatically expire.
-Most important of all, Congress needs to reassume its lawmaking responsibilities. It passed 125 bills last year—but federal agencies passed 3,503 final rules. This “regulation without representation” should end. There is too little accountability when it comes to regulation.
Posted in Economics, Publications, regulation
Tagged 10kc, cost of government day, fox, fox forum, fox news, reform, regulation, regulatory reform, tax freedom day, ten thousand commandments
A reader sent the following email to Wayne Crews and I in response to our article that ran in today’s AOL News. My reply follows.
Your vague double-talk would likely indicate that you are republican. The final statement in your opening paragraph seems to insinuate that the current administration (democrats) will escalate the already enormous number of federal regulations. If my recollection is correct, Clinton was the last president to really chisel away at some of this, and not only balanced the budget, but facilitated a surplus. Republicans, led by the renegade Bush, put us into a war, based on COMPLETE LIES which is the true base of the current enormous deficit. (Oh, and by the way, lots of Bush affiliates made a fortune over in Iraq. Hhmm?) This along with the deregulation pushed thru by the republican-controlled congress during the Clinton administration (giving banks ridiculously dangerous new powers) led to the economic CRASH of our current RECESSION (to put it lightly) – not to mention the crazy policies of the Federal Reserve and lack of oversight by the SEC during Bush’s DESPOTIC REIGN. The bail-outs pushed by Bush as he was leaving office and the subsequent pressured NECESSITY for Obama to continue in the same vein was certainly NOT the fault of the democrats. They were forced to deal with the CRAP left behind by the republicans, or face complete collapse of our entire economy. Bush and the republicans are the crazy lying right wing bigots that have the Christian right SNOWED. They could not care less about righteousness. They simply coddle the Christian right to get their votes with issues like Anti-Abortion and Anti-Gay-Marriage. The members of the early Church (followers of Christ after His death) sold everything and everyone put all their wealth together, and each was given as was needed (sort of like SOCIALISM or even COMMUNISM). The dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest stance of the republican party, supported by the Christian right, could not be any further from the system of the original followers of Christ, His Church.
I sent him this reply:
[Name redacted] – Thanks for writing. I am actually an independent. So is Wayne. I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, am pro-gay marriage and pro-choice, I oppose the drug war and the PATRIOT Act, and I favor separation of church and state. It would be quite a stretch to call me a Republican. I share your negative opinion of Bush, and am proud that I never voted for him.
One point of correction, though: Bush and his fellow Republicans didn’t deregulate a thing. In fact, more than 30,000 new regulations hit the books on his watch! You can check the data for yourself in Wayne’s new study at http://www.cei.org/10kc/.
With 157,000 pages of regulations on the books from 59 different federal departments, it is quite difficult to even find a free market to blame for our troubles. That’s why there’s a growing consensus in the economic literature that decades of federal interventions into the housing market was a major cause of the recession.
All the best,
UPDATE: My correspondent replied with a very kind mea culpa this morning (4/16). He originally wrote in a fit of anger, and now retracts calling Wayne and I Republicans. Seems like a nice guy, actually.
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
Posted in Economics, Publications, regulation
Tagged 10000 commandments, 10kc, aol news, deregulate to stimulate, regulation, regulation without representation, Ryan Young, ten thousand commandments, wayne crews
Over at RealClearMarkets, I explain why the answer is a resounding no:
Rep. Phil Hare argues that “reckless deregulation” is one of the causes of the current economic crisis. That isn’t actually true. This year’s edition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ten Thousand Commandments report found that 3,830 new regulations came into effect in 2008 alone.
Over 30,000 total new rules passed during the Bush years. Hardly any were repealed. Businesses currently dole out the equivalent of Canada’s entire 2006 GDP – about $1.2 trillion – just to comply with federal regulations.
Where is the deregulation?
263,989 people make their living working for federal regulatory agencies, according to research from the Mercatus Center. That’s an all-time high.
12,190 of them regulate financial markets from Washington. More are based in New York and other financial centers. None of these figures include state and local rules and regulators. Those cost extra.
Posted in Business Cycles, Economics, Political Animals, regulation
Tagged bush, business cycle theory, Business Cycles, canada gdp, deregulate to stimulate, deregulation, obama, opportunity costs, phil hare, realclearmarkets, recession, regulatory agencies, rep. phil hare, ten thousand commandments, the great recession