NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Mammoth Bureaucracies and Costly Regulations

April 26, 2000

Analysts point out that few Americans really appreciate how big, pervasive and costly Washington bureaucracies and their satellites across the nation really are.

Here are some eye-opening numbers:

  • Congress passed and the president signed just 170 bills into law in 1999, while agencies issued 4,684 rules last year and more than 40,000 rules during the 1990s.
  • Today, the 60-plus federal departments, agencies and commissions are at work on another 4,538 rules -- 137 of which will cost at least $100 million to comply with, and 963 of which will have an impact on small business.
  • Based on figures from Thomas Hopkins of the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Tax Foundation, a median, two-earner family of four with $41,846 in after-tax income in 1998 was burdened with regulatory costs of about $7,400.
  • If one thinks of these regulatory costs as part of a family's after-tax budget, regulations take an 18 percent bite out of after-tax income.

Experts say that reform of the regulatory behemoth first requires better disclosure of the costs and potential benefits of rules. Then the electorate must hold Congress responsible for the good and bad results of those rules.

Source: Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. (Competitive Enterprise Institute), "Gorging on Regulations," Washington Times, April 26, 2000.


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