Federal regulations cost economy $1.9T in 2015, controversial study claims

Federal regulations cost economy $1.9T in 2015, controversial study claims
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The cost of federal regulations is approaching $2 trillion a year, according to a controversial report released Wednesday.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) ninth annual Ten Thousand Commandments report claims the federal government issued 80,260 pages of rules in 2015, including 76 major rules that each cost the economy more than $100 million.

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The price tag for all these rules adds up to $1.88 trillion — or about $15,000 per family — in 2015, according to the report.

The Ten Thousand Commandments report notes this is slightly more than the $1.82 trillion the IRS collected in taxes for the same year.

“The federal government has become very savvy in hiding costs by expanding their reach beyond taxes into regulations,” CEI Vice President Wayne Crews, who authored the report, said in a statement. 

“Unfortunately, regulatory costs get little attention in policy debates, because unlike taxes, they are difficult to quantify because they are unbudgeted and often indirect,” he added. "But the impacts of burdensome regulations are very real and increase costs for consumers and businesses, limiting productivity and a thriving free market.”

According to the report, the Obama administration is responsible for six of the seven busiest rule-making years in recent history. In 2015, federal agencies enacted 30 rules for every law that Congress issued.

The CEI has previously been criticized for its annual Ten Thousand Commandments report.

The numbers are often quoted by Republican lawmakers as reason to rein in the Obama administration, but critics have questioned the way in which CEI conducts the report.

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog last year gave the report two pinocchios.

Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate at the left-leaning Public Citizen, said the report is “divorced from facts and reality” and joked that it “belongs in the fantasy section of the bookstore, next to ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Game of Thrones.’ "

Narang pointed to “numerous methodological errors and flaws” that led the report to “completely ignore the benefits of regulations while misleadingly inflating regulatory costs.”

“Reports like these give fodder to die-hard critics of regulation at the expense of thoughtful and balanced consideration of the regulatory impacts,” he said.