NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

United States Federal Regulatory State is Larger than India's Economy

May 13, 2015

In January 2015, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported outlays for fiscal year (FY) 2014 of $3.5 trillion and projected spending for FY 2015 at $3.656 trillion.  The CBO projected that spending would reach $4 trillion by 2017, whereas President Barack Obama's federal budget proposal for FY 2016 already seeks $3.999 trillion in discretionary, entitlement, and interest spending.  High debt and deficits notwithstanding, $4 trillion in annual spending will soon be the new normal.

Trillion dollar deficits were once unimaginable. Such sums typified the level of budgets themselves, not shortfalls. Spending is not projected to balance revenue at any point in the coming decade. The scope of federal government spending, deficits and the national debt is staggering, but so is the impact of federal regulations, which now exceeds half the amount the federal government spends annually. 

  • Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.
  • If U.S. federal regulation were a country, it would be the world's 10th largest economy, ranking behind Russia and ahead of India. 
  • Economy-wide regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,976 per household - around 29 percent of an average family budget of $51,100. Although not paid directly by individuals, this "cost" of regulation exceeds the amount an average family spends on health care, food and transportation.   
  • The "Unconstitutionality Index" is the ratio of regulations issued by unelected agency officials compared to legislation enacted by Congress in a given year. In 2014, agencies issued 16 new regulations for every law—that is 3,554 new regulations compared to 224 new laws.
  • Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed what the Internal Revenue Service is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes for last year—by more than $160 billion.

Source: Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., "Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State," Competitive Enterprise Institute, May 8, 2015. 


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