The federal government managed to achieve another record-breaking year in 2015 regarding the number of new regulations created.
The final page count of the 2015 Federal Register reached 82,036 pages, more than last year’s 77,687 pages, and higher than the previous record-holding year of 2010.
Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote:
“Among this year’s pages so far are 3,378 final rules and regulations. Of those final rules, 545 are recognized as having effects on small businesses. Some rules this year have been especially hefty, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and its Waters of the United States rule, and the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality order.
“Another 2,334 proposed rules were issued in 2015 and are under various levels of consideration.”
The current POTUS is the all-time champion of regulations creation – of the seven Federal Register record years, six occurred during Obama’s watch.
Besides the already overloaded Federal Register are Obama’s numerous executive orders and presidential memoranda. In 2015 alone, the president issued 29 executive orders and 31 executive memoranda, “some with substantial economic effect on areas like student loans and leave policy and minimum wages for contractors,” according to Crews.
That’s not to mention the thousands of guidance documents, “notices, bulletins, circulars, memoranda and decrees” that make up what Crews calls “Regulatory Dark Matter:”
“There are several hundred guidances in effect acknowledged to be ‘significant.’ And the Federal Register this year contains 23,901 ‘notices.’ Most are insignificant, but lots of stuff gets buried there, and still more doesn’t even appear in the Federal Register at all. No one even knows where to find all the agency ‘guidance’ that’s out there.”
Congress passes only a limited number of laws per year while agencies issue thousands of rules and regulations, which means that the vast majority of new legislation is non-congressional in nature and beyond the “official, democratic lawmaking process.”
Meanwhile, the executive branch refuses to obey congressional legislation when it pleases, but businesses large and small, as well as ordinary citizens, are expected to navigate and adhere to the labyrinthian maze of new rules and regulations.
And, of course, the American taxpayer is expected to pay all the costs of creating, implementing and enforcing them.
Just how much does all this cost?
According to AmericanActionForum.org, 2015 regulations cost taxpayers nearly $200 billion:
“Combined, regulatory costs topped $197 billion, with $99 billion in final rule burdens. Regulators published 127.9 million paperwork hours, with more than 41 million from final rules.”
That works out to nearly $850 of regulatory costs per American citizen of voting age. Total regulatory costs in the U.S. add up to a whopping $784 million per day.
No wonder the so-called economic recovery has been rather sluggish – not only do these costs burden the average taxpayer, they also discourage business investment.
So what’s the solution?
“Congress’ over-delegation of power is at the root of Washington’s out-of-control growth…
“Congressional accountability is indispensable in offsetting the pro-regulatory bias that prevails across the entire federal bureaucracy, including its independent agencies…
“The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2015 (H.R.427), which has already passed the House, would require this step for regulations.199 It should be expanded to cover significant and contentious dark matter.”
Congress has the most power to curb regulatory excesses. The Senate must pass the REINS Act.
As Crews noted: “If Congress isn’t willing to force Obama to explain why unelected should make laws, it must be because the Republican Congress isn’t willing to end over-delegation.”