NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 7, 2005

The actual cost of the federal regulatory state may never be fully known, but in his report, "Ten Thousand Commandments," Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) aims to inform the public of the impact of regulation and to propose ways to increase accountability.

According to Crews, federal environmental, safety and health and economic regulations cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year -- on top of official federal outlays:

  • In 2004, regulatory costs hit an estimated $877 billion -- an amount equivalent to 38 percent of all FY 2004 outlays, 7.6 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (estimated at $10,980 for 2003) and more than twice the $412 billion budget deficit.
  • Agencies also spent $36.3 billion merely to administer and police the regulatory state in 2004, bringing the total regulatory burden to $913 billion.

The U.S. government recently ended its short-lived string of budgetary surpluses, but deficit control could prompt Congress to adopt new off-budget private-sector regulations rather than new spending that would increase the deficit. Therefore, policy makers must control regulatory costs, says Crews:

  • Congressional accountability assumes new importance since disclosure is a main issue.
  • Regulations should be treated like federal spending; whenever possible, Congress should be accountable for federal regulations' compliance costs and benefits.
  • Congress should be required to vote on agencies' final rules -- in expedited fashion -- before they become binding on the public.

Moreover, requiring explicit approval of all proposed regulations would ensure that Congress bears direct responsibility for every dollar of new regulatory costs; thus, fulfilling citizens' expectation of "no regulation without representation," says Crews.

Source: Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., "No Regulation without Representation," CEI Planet, Vol. 18, No. 4, September/October 2005; based upon: Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., "Ten Thousand Commandments," Competitive Enterprise Institute, June 30, 2005.

For text:,04896.cfm

For abstract:,04645.cfm


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