Although the number and the total cost of this year’s regulations are both all-time records, they’re nothing new. This expensive burden has been increasing for some time. Ever heard someone spout the conventional “wisdom” that President George W. Bush’s tenure was a period of deregulation? Government data flatly contradict this claim. The regulatory burden increased by more than $70 billion during the Bush years. But, as with government spending, the Obama administration took a lamentable trend and pumped it full of steroids.
And, unfortunately, the costs cited above are - if anything - on the low side. The final price tag is sure to be higher.
For one thing, the $26.5 billion figure is based on initial calculations made by the government agencies in question. As the Heritage report notes, these calculations almost always low-ball the numbers. The agencies naturally want to minimize anything that makes their proposals look bad. For another, not every new regulation is counted -- only the “major” ones, and not even all of those. But they all add up.
Worse, more regulations are on the way. The new health care law and the financial-regulation law alone will result in hundreds of new rules.
“These initiatives embody a stunningly full regulatory agenda, indicating that this year’s record for regulatory increases will not stand for long.” the Heritage report concludes.
Americans hold politicians’ feet to the fire when taxes are too high, and rightly so. It’s time they did the same thing when it comes to regulations.
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