CEI

Report: Americans face $1.8 trillion in annual regulatory costs

 Ten Thousand Commandments

One of the most dangerous, least often talked about threats of the governmental regulatory machine is how much of our money is engulfed in the regulatory process, putting the country deeper into debt.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just released its annual report on the general state of U.S. federal regulations and what is known as the “hidden tax” of the U.S. regulatory state known as the Ten Thousand Commandments.

Because regulations are proposed and enacted without allowing for a substantial review of their cost-benefit and its open discussion, Americans are hit with the consequences of the growth of the regulatory state where it hurts the most: their wallet.

“Federal agencies crank out thousands of new regulations every year,” says CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews, “but we have little information on the cost or effectiveness of most of them.” According to Crews, one of the main issues with this process is the lack of transparency since few of us have access to reliable sources of information on what the regulations hope to accomplish.

The cost of the regulatory mess we find ourselves in adds hundreds of billions to our debt, which is why this report is so important. CEI Vice President for Policy warned the public that action is needed.

Regulatory State Gone Wild

Ten Thousand Commandments

Americans spend $1.8 trillion each year — nearly $15,000 per family — complying with regulations passed down by the federal government. That’s the estimate given by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in the latest edition of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.

“The 2012 Federal Register ranks fourth all-time with 78,961 pages, but three of the top four years, including the top two, occurred during the Obama administration,” noted the statement accompanying the report. “The 2010s are on pace to average 80,000 pages per year—up from 170,000 in the 1960s and 450,000 in the ‘70s.”

“There are more federal regulations than ever—the Code of Federal Regulations, which compiles all federal regulations, grew by more than 4,000 pages last year and now stands at 174,545 pages, spread over 238 volumes. Its index alone runs to more than 1,100 pages,” CEI added. “Government has added more than 80,000 regulations in the last 20 years—3,708 in the last year alone. That’s one new rule Americans must live under every 2½ hours. Today, 4,062 sit in the pipeline. Those will add at least $22 billion in compliance costs and probably much more.”

The cost to Americans as result of the regulations is perhaps the troubling aspect of the report. But another startling point is the way in which these rules and regulations are being imposed on Americans. Because the Obama Administration cannot pass many of these regulations through Congress, it is bypassing the legislative branch altogether, meaning that there is little to no oversight by Congress.

The report also notes that there has been a jump in “economically significant rules” — those that bring $100 million or more in compliance costs — on President Obama’s watch.

It’s time to stop paying for other people’s college educations

college

Over the past several decades, it has become accepted that the cost of higher education will continue to rise every year, far outpacing inflation or any other category (save perhaps health care).  Every year, more and more colleges raise tuition to ungodly levels, fully knowing that the federal government will cover the difference.  There is little incentive for them to do otherwise.  Quite simply, college is not anything close to resembling a free market.  We have come to accept the idea that everyone should be able to go to college, including ones that are wildly overpriced, and that government - that is, taxpayers - should foot the bill.

And yet, even questioning this is akin to wanting poor kids to suffer.  During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney, supposedly from the party that likes free markets, was a staunch defender of Pell Grants, one of the primary government programs used to subsidize college tuition.  Romney even expressed a desire to expand the program.  For those who don’t know, the basic principle of Pell Grants is that the government gives you money towards your tuition - with no obligation to pay it back.  There are various qualifiers for this money, but it is basically a gift if you get it.  So needless to say, when I heard this during the debate, one thing was clear - you’re not allowed to question the basic idea that government has an interest, even an obligation, to pay for college for those who cannot afford it.

Profiles in Liberty: Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Christopher C. Horner serves as a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. As an attorney in Washington, DC, Horner has represented CEI as well as scientists and Members of the U.S. House and Senate on matters of environmental policy in the federal courts including the Supreme Court.

Horner has testified before the United States Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Environment and Public Works, and works on a legal and policy level with numerous think tanks and policy organizations throughout the world. This week, Horner published a newly uncovered memo between the IPCC and EPA.

Greenpeace has repeatedly targeted Mr. Horner, by stealing his garbage on a weekly basis, issuing press releases announcing with whom he dines and including him in various other hysterical publications including most recently “A Field Guide to Climate Criminals” distributed at the UN climate meeting in Montreal in December 2005.

If you haven’t purchased his new book, The liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal,” you should do so today! Follow him on Twitter @Chris_C_Horner.

Matt Naugle: How did you become a libertarian?

Today in Liberty: MSNBC mocks Hillary Clinton’s “dead broke” comments, veterans disapprove of Bergdahl-Taliban deal

“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

— MSNBC’s Morning Joe mocks Clinton’s Romney moment: In an interview with Good Morning America on Monday Hillary Clinton said that her family left the White House “not only dead broke, but in debt” and defended the millions she and former President Bill Clinton have made in speaking fees. “[W]e had to pay off all our debts,” she said, “which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of obviously taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.” Oh, the hardship of poverty: “How can we afford our $1.7 million and $2.85 million homes in New York and Washington!?” MSNBC’s Morning Joe had some fun with Clinton’s tone deaf, Romney-like comments this morning. Here’s a taste.

Today in Liberty: January jobs report disappoints, Biden can’t think of a reason not to run in 2016

“The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.” — Daniel Webster

— January jobs report lower than expectations: The Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that 113,000 jobs were created in January. The unemployment rate fell to 6.6%. Economists predicted a net-gain of 180,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain at 6.7%. ADP estimated this week that 175,000 jobs were created last month. The labor participation rate rose slight to 63%, up from 62.8% in January, a 35-year low. The December report was revised upward, though marginally, from 74,000 to 75,000 jobs.

— McConnell trails in Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) trails his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, by 4 points, according to a new Lexington Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll. Just 32% of Kentuckians approve of McConnell’s job performance, while 60% disapprove, which is actually worse than President Obama’s approval rating (34/60) in the state. Grimes also holds a 5-point lead over Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in the GOP primary. The only bright spot for McConnell is that he holds a 26-point lead over Bevin among primary voters.

Nanny State FDA bans trans fats

Donuts

Nanny State regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced late last week that it will require restaurants and other food makers to phase out the use of trans fats in their recipes, claiming that such a move will prevent heart attacks and deaths:

Heart-clogging trans fats were once a staple of the American diet, plentiful in baked goods, microwave popcorn and fried foods. Now, mindful of the health risks, the Food and Drug Administration is getting rid of what’s left of them for good.

Condemning artificial trans fats as a threat to public health, the FDA announced Thursday it will require the food industry to phase them out.
[…]
It won’t happen right away. The agency will collect comments for two months before determining a phase-out timetable. Different foods may have different schedules, depending how easy it is to find substitutes.

“We want to do it in a way that doesn’t unduly disrupt markets,” said Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. Still, he says, the food “industry has demonstrated that it is, by and large, feasible to do.”

This ban managed to fly under the radar with all of the public focus on other stories, like the government shutdown and Obamacare, over the last month. There has been a public campaign for years to try to raise awareness to trans fats, which can be, if consumed often enough, hazardous to people’s health.

That apparently wasn’t enough for busybody regulators. The FDA contends that banning trans fats, thus eliminating public choice and personal responsibility, will prevent some 20,000 heart attacks each year and 7,000 deaths.

Coalition urges Senate to pass REINS Act

A broad coalition of conservative and free market groups are urging members of the Senate to support a measure — the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act,” better known as the REINS Act — that would require congressional approval of executive-level agency rules that will have a costly economic impact.

“This bill restores legislative control and accountability to the federal regulatory process by providing for meaningful congressional oversight over new regulations agencies impose on the American people,” wrote the coalition of organizations to individual members of the Senate.

“It requires both houses of Congress to approve any proposed ‘major rule’ — that is, any rule likely to affect the economy by $100 million or more — before such a rule goes into effect,” the letter continues. “The REINS Act already passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a sizeable margin. It is now time for the Senate to follow suit.”

Policymakers and bureaucrats tend not to be concerned about the implications of rules created by executive-level agencies, like the EPA, for example. But these regulations create a costly compliance burden for consumers and business, which are already facing tremendous strains on their finances as the economy has limped along after the recession, with next to no accountability and only marginal oversight.

In March, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released its annual regulatory snapshot, Ten Thousand Commandments, which found that compliance cost with these rules and regulation cost $1.8 trillion in 2012, roughly $14,678 per American family. Those compliance costs, the coalition letter notes, “was more than half of all federal outlays ($3.4 trillion)” for that year.

Court case could bring Obamacare to its knees

A lawsuit currently working its way through federal court could undermine key Obamacare regulations written by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) concerning states that had opted not to participate in the insurance exchanges per last year’s Supreme Court decision.

The lawsuit, filed by business owners with the assistance of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), seeks to invalidate the subsidies given to individuals who purchase insurance coverage through the federal health insurance exchange and the fines that employers face if they don’t offer their employees health insurance.

The plaintiffs cleared their first major hurdle last week when U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton appointee, denied the Obama Administration’s motion to dismiss the case. The judge, however, also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the subsidies until a final ruling on the case is issued.

“We have been hoping for a quick ruling since we filed this case, and now it looks like we will get it,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel for CEI, in a statement after the initial rulings last week. “We are hopeful the forthcoming ruling will invalidate the attempt by the IRS to eliminate the distinction between states that participate in the insurance exchange program and those that do not.”

NSA opponents to hold rally against spying in late October

StopWatching.Us rally

Opponents of the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance apparatus are organizing a rally to remind elected officials the violation of Americans’ civil liberties through the collection of their phone records and Internet metadata.

StopWatching.Us — a coalition of more 100 groups, including the ACLU, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Digital Fourth, Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, Mozilla, and reddit — plans to stage the rally on October 26th in Washington, DC, where organizers will present Congress with petitions containing the signatures of more than 569,000 people who are opposed to NSA spying.

“On Saturday, October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act — thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to proclaim: Enough is enough. Stop watching us,” StopWatching.Us said in the announcement of the rally.

“We are demanding a full Congressional investigation of America’s surveillance programs, reform to federal surveillance law, and accountability from public officials responsible for hiding this surveillance from lawmakers and the public,” the organizers added. “And we will personally deliver the half million petition signatures to Congress.”


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