NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 6, 2010

Americans are endlessly paying taxes -- on their income, on their property, on almost anything they purchase.  But the heavy burden that the U.S. government places on its citizens does not stop there.  It continues with a slew of hidden taxes imposed by an ever-larger number of government regulations.   These regulatory taxes do not appear on any balance sheet, yet cost Americans about $1 trillion every year, says the Heritage Foundation. 

The recently released Heritage Backgrounder, "Red Tape Rising: Regulation in the Obama Era," measures the regulatory impact of the outgoing Bush administration and the new Obama Administration (following up on earlier assessments released in 2004 and 2008). 

Specifically, the report finds that: 

  • During fiscal year 2009, regulations costing some $14 billion were adopted by the Bush and Obama administrations, more than in any year since 1992.
  • A majority of these new regulatory costs were imposed by the outgoing Bush administration, although costs imposed by the Obama White House were large for an incoming administration.
  • Regulatory burdens will likely increase at even higher rates in 2010, given regulatory efforts in health care, energy, financial services, telecommunications, and elsewhere. 

Anyone who uses electricity, drives a car, has a job, visits a doctor, owns stocks, or patronizes a bank is affected by federal regulation, says Heritage. 

There is no single magic bullet that will stop the excessive growth of regulation, but there are steps that policymakers can take to increase scrutiny of new -- and existing -- rules to ensure that each is necessary, and that costs are minimized.  According to Heritage, Congress and the Obama administration should: 

  • Protect the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).
  • Establish a Congressional Regulation Office.
  • Establish a sunset date for new federal regulations. 

Source: Steve Keen, "Red Tape Rising: Regulation in the Obama Era," Heritage Foundation, April 2, 2010. 

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