NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulation without Representation

February 11, 2011

Regulatory agencies enact more than 3,500 new regulations in an average year.  A new federal rule hits the books roughly every two hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Compare that with Congress, which passes fewer than 200 pieces of legislation per year.  Only Congress has the power to legislate in the American system of government, but Congress never actually votes on most regulations.  This is regulation without representation, and it is a major problem, say Wayne Crews, vice president for policy, and Ryan Young, a fellow in regulatory studies, at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

  • Regulation without representation is a major reason why the Code of Federal Regulations has ballooned to 157,000 pages and counting, making it far more difficult to do business and slowing economic recovery.
  • The total cost of federal regulations last year was over $1.75 trillion.
  • Every year, about 200 major rules hit the books -- these are defined as regulations that cost more than $100 million per year.
  • In 2010, there were 224 major rules at various stages at the agencies.

Taken together, they cost businesses and consumers a bare minimum of $22.4 billion, yet Congress did not vote on most of them.  Agencies have little incentive to restrain their command-and-control impulses without proper congressional oversight.  That needs to change, say Crews and Young.

Source: Wayne Crews and Ryan Young, "Regulation without Representation," Investor's Business Daily, February 8, 2011.

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