NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

President Obama's $488 Billion Regulatory Burden

October 1, 2012

The Obama administration has created regulations that cost over $488 billion. However, this estimate is at the low-end and doesn't include several factors such as private-sector cost, burden on state and local governments, and paperwork requirements, says Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum.

Based on data from the Government Accountability Office and what is published in the Federal Register, Batkins takes a look at the costs of the regulations after reviewing 6,705 regulations in 2011 and tracking more than 4,700.

  • This year alone, the Obama administration published more than $231 billion in regulatory costs.
  • In 2009, the cost of complying with "major" rules exceeded $61 billion.
  • In 2010, the cost rose to $160 billion.

The most expensive regulations include:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology regulations: $10 billion.
  • Department of Justice prison reform standards: $6.9 billion.
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Community First Choice Option Implementation: $5.7 billion.
  • The proposed Department of Energy distribution transformer standards: $5.2 billion.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission conflict minerals rule: $4.7 billion.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency's fuel efficiency standards: lifetime cost of $156 billion.
  • Finally, the Affordable Car Act has already imposed $27.9 billion in lifetime burdens, and the law is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2014.

The Obama administration argues that it is attempting to reduce regulatory burdens and produce net benefits. However, many of the costs are never quantified. For example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau imposed more than 7.6 million paperwork hours. It is stated that these burdens will cost $0. This is because they are not legally required to quantify all possible burdens on private entities and states, despite the fact that such work will require more money.

The administration has attempted to review its regulations and has even issued executive orders that rescinded $2.4 billion in regulatory costs.

Source: Sam Batkins, "President Obama's $488 Billion Regulatory Burden," American Action Forum, September 19, 2012.


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