NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Regulatory Burden

July 10, 2002

Every time a government agency creates a new regulation, it costs the American people more money. Often, if Congress is hesitant to tax and spend, it will regulate. Instead of paying for a program directly, Congress can simply require the private sector and/or lower-level governments to pay for its desired initiatives. However, the hidden regulations cost taxpayers just as if they were a direct tax.

  • In 2001, regulatory agencies that are unaccountable to voters issued 4,132 rules, while Congress passed and the president signed into law just 108 bills.
  • Regulatory costs of $854 billion are equivalent to 8.4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • In 1998, the median two-earner family's after-tax income of $41,846 contained $7,410 in hidden regulatory costs -- thus eating up about 18 percent of the after-tax family budget.
  • U.S. regulatory costs alone are more than either Mexico's or Canada's entire GDP.

Source: Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. "Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State," Cato Institute, 2002.

For text


Browse more articles on Government Issues