Sunday, October 11, 2015

The cost of regulation

No matter the party, regulations just keep increasing - of course the good news, is that the politicians are starting to take notice (Mercatus):

It's been a long time coming, but structural reforms to the regulatory process are finally starting to reach the mainstream. Presidential candidates, and sitting members of Congress alike, are increasingly proposing ideas and legislation that would change the way regulatory agencies go about making regulations, rather than reacting to each individual regulation as it is produced (although, to be sure, that still happens, too). And it's for good reason that more and more people want to change the regulatory process.

In years past, it may have been easy for politicians to delegate responsibility to agencies and then act as if the issue had been solved. But the delegate-and-forget-about-it doctrine led to a fourth branch of government — the regulatory agencies — producing far more law than Congress itself, and accumulating a stockpile of regulations that is so large that it would require nearly three years for a person to read through the current federal regulatory code.
And the costs aren't incidental:
For our RegData project, we counted the number of individual restrictions — words and phrases that indicate a specific prohibited or mandatory activity — contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). In the 2014 CFR, we found about 1.1 million restrictions, each one every bit as legally binding as a law passed by Congress and signed by the president.

According to the 2016 Regulator's Budget by Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren, taxpayers spent about $62 billion on the production and enforcement of regulations, although that figure excludes a number of significant regulators for technical reasons — and both the budget and number of restrictions have grown consistently over the time they have been measured. Over the last 20 years, the regulatory budget has more than doubled in real terms, while the number of total restrictions has grown by about 220,000 — a 25 percent increase.

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