NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulation by the Unelected

August 9, 1999

Some members of Congress are appalled by the reams of regulations issued each year by swarms of unelected federal bureaucrats. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) are two of those, and in June they reintroduced their Congressional Responsibility Act -- which would require Congress to approve major agency rules and regulations before they become binding.

  • While Congress passed and the president signed into law 241 bills last year, federal agencies issued 4,899 rules and regulations -- 315 more than the previous year and the second greatest number since 1984.
  • At 68,591 pages, last year's Federal Register -- the depository of federal regulations -- attained heights not seen since the Carter administration.
  • Requiring spending of more than $700 billion annually, off-budget regulatory costs are now well more than one- third the level of the entire 1998 federal budget of $1.6 trillion -- and they rival corporate pre-tax profits of $734 billion.
  • Yet in the Office of Management and Budget's 1998 Report to Congress on regulatory costs and benefits, less than 1 percent of agency final rule documents were reviewed -- a clear indication, critics say, that the federal government has no idea whether benefits exceed costs.

Source: Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. (Competitive Enterprise Institute), "Tyranny of the Unelected Regulators," Washington Times, August 8, 1999.


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