Obama Issued $216 Billion in New Regulations in 2012

The Obama administration issued $216 billion worth of new regulations and forced companies to pay for an extra 87 million hours on paperwork in 2012, a new report shows. This report exemplifies the increase in regulatory costs that we have seen for decades, placing a multi-trillion dollar burden on the U.S. economy. It'stime for some of these regulations to be repealed.

In 2008, the Small Business Administration estimated U.S. federal regulation to cost $1.75 trillion annually, and an estimated $466 billion has been added since. This means that today’s regulatory costs amount to $2.2 trillion per year. When this $2.22 trillion is divided among the 143 million working Americans, the price of these regulations comes out to $15,524 per worker.

Some of these regulations do great things. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, for example, prevents people from building atom bombs in their backyards by regulating certain nuclear materials. But regulations that are out of date, frivolous and detrimental to the economy should be repealed.

For instance, did you know that the government regulates the size and shape of holes in Swiss cheese? They also regulate the wearing of Peyton Manning jerseys, because his jersey has a “gang number” on it. The federal government even regulates when and how you can help grandma to get dressed, giving permissible situations for one to help the elderly with their clothes. Regulations on the Panama Canal (which has not been under U.S. jurisdiction since 1999) and the handling of a possible Y2K crisis (which never happened) are still on the books even though they are no longer needed.

Even though these regulations may seem harmless, the costs add up. Something needs to be done about excess regulations so that the worker can take back some of their $15,524 that is lost every year.

One solution to this problem comes from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a “free-market” conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. CEI has proposed that a “Regulatory Reduction Committee” be established to reduce frivolous regulations. This committee would provide a yearly package of proposed regulatory reductions to be voted on by Congress, thereby giving our lawmakers the ability to repeal regulations.

The best part about this idea is that both sides agree. The Progressive Policy Institute, a “New Democrat” think tank, has put forth a plan to establish a “Regulatory Improvement Commission” which performs largely the same function as CEI’s Regulatory Reduction committee. Reducing regulations is one of those rare issues that both sides can agree on.

With a divided Congress, it is unlikely that any bill (even a widely-supported one on regulation-reduction) will be legislated. But if the babies in Congress can quit whining, maybe they will be able to put some of that $15,524 back into the pocket of the American worker.

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Christian Rice

Christian is a senior at Georgetown University pursuing a double-major in government and philosophy. He has worked as a research assistant on Economic Liberty and a legislative analyst on economic development, communication and technology policy for a non-profit in Washington, D.C.

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