NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 24, 2008

To hear Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tell it, the Bush Administration is in the pocket of corporate interests.  However, a look at the recent Bush regulatory record makes one wonder why the party's candidates aren't holding it up as a model of Democratic governance, says the Wall Street Journal.

For example:

  • Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new ozone rules for the first time in 10 years; the cost in lost economic output from this new more stringent rule is estimated at $6 billion a year.
  • Last year Bush rule-making agencies imposed $11 billion of net new economy-wide regulatory costs (mostly in the environmental area); the cost of new regulations has increased every year on Bush's watch, but last year was by far the highest.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) calculates that the total cost in 2005 of complying with 145,000 pages of federal rules and procedures was $1.1 trillion; this is the rough economic equivalent of imposing a second federal income tax on the economy.

George Mason University's Mercatus Center reveals in a soon-to-be released study that every measure of regulatory activity is up in recent years -- agency staffing, budgets, pages of rule making and compliance costs.  Those numbers contradict the stream of attacks against this Administration for "weakening" federal consumer and environmental protections.

Excluding homeland security regulations, the budgets of Uncle Sam's 50 largest agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Consumer Products Safety Commission, are up almost one-third since 2001.  There are now some 200,000 full-time government employees writing and enforcing federal commandments, says the journal.

Regulators get an especially twitchy trigger finger at the end of every administration.  Heritage analyst James Gattuso warns that a catalog of new rules is already in the pipeline for 2008.

Source: Editorial, "Red Tape Rising," Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2008.

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