NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulation Without Representation

August 29, 2003

The Cato Institute's survey "Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State," finds regulatory spending equivalent to more than one-third of the entire federal budget itself -- a larger burden than the entire federal budget back in the 1960s. It's greater than Canada's GDP ($701 billion in 2000) and even greater than pretax corporate profits of $699 billion.

  • The Federal Register, where new rules are published daily, hit an all-time record high of 75,606 pages this past year (up from 9,562 in 1950, 20,036 in 1970, and 49,795 in 1990).
  • In the pipeline are now 4,187 rules at various stages of completion.
  • Only five agencies are responsible for more than half of this torrent: the Environmental Protection Agency (surprise!) and the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, Agriculture and Interior.

Many of the rules are well intended, others are questionable, says the report. Unfortunately, voters' connection to those who regulate is severed: Congress takes credit for popular regulatory initiatives, but can then blame agencies for costs.

Regulatory reform during the Bush administration has a role to play in economic recovery, notes the report. Phasing out inefficient rules, making regulatory costs as transparent as direct taxes, and making Congress directly responsible for those costs, are crucial to economic health. Congress delegates sweeping lawmaking power to unelected bureaucrats and that must end.

Source: Editorial, "The Other Commandments," Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2003; Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., "Washington's Ten Thousand Commandments - and What to Do About Them," Cato Institute, July 10, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB106212124131341000,00.html

For Cato study


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