While tax dollars and related federal spending patterns are relatively transparent to American families and businesses, the costs associated with federal regulations are not so clear. A new report from Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute offers some insight for taxpayers on just how vast the regulatory regime is. Tip of the Costberg: On the Invalidity of All Cost of Regulation Estimates and the Need to Compile Them Anyway sourced both federal and independent agencies in order to provide a more in-depth analysis of federal regulatory costs. Though the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) offers an estimation of regulatory expenses, Crews found their number to be far from complete. The OMB claimed federal regulation expenses peaked at $128.7 billion for fiscal year 2013. Crews’ more accurate total was around $1.882 trillion annually – and even this number doesn't account for the various costs that result from undocumented executive overreach.
Crews points out that many regulations are written based on skewed assumptions that emphasize alleged benefits with little or no regard to their cost. The true impact of regulatory action cannot be fully summarized by simply tabulating governmental spending on regulatory bodies. An accurate cost analysis would include what productivity will be forced out of the private sector, economic impacts and job loss, indirect costs, the loss of liberty and individual decision making, and much more.
Like Crews, COGC feels Congress, directly accountability to their constituents, is more appropriately situated to be the arbiters of big regulatory policy decisions. These decisions should be weighed with regards to their actual cost – and should be transparent to American taxpayers footing the bill. Unless policymakers can stem the tide of overzealous and unaccountable rule-making, the $1.882 trillion price tag Crews estimates Americans are on the hook for will only get larger.