Big government has long been synonymous with inefficiency, and the bigger the government the worse the inefficiency. One of the many culprits behind the inefficiency of government is bureaucratic red tape. The culprit behind bureaucratic red tape is the flood of regulations the Washington bureaucracy churns out faster than MacDonald’s churns out hamburgers. Under President Obama, government regulations are growing like a cancer that envelops the vital organs of the economy. The Heritage Foundation offers the following information about the proliferation of government regulations:
- During his six years as president, Barack Obama’s administration has issued 157 new major rules at an annual cost of $73 billion. This is twice as many regulations as the George W. Bush administration averaged each year, and President Bush was not known for his reluctance to establish new regulations.
- Obama’s regulators have already identified 135 additional rules they plan to enact this year.
If 157 bureaucratic regulations collectively cost the American people $73 billion dollars, that means we are paying an average of $464,968.15 per regulation. These regulatory costs come right out of the pockets of every American taxpayer, either directly or indirectly. Further, every dollar that must be spent to satisfy a government regulation is a dollar that could have been used by hard-working Americans to meet the needs of their families or could have been invested by American businesses in becoming more competitive and in helping create jobs.
To add insult to injury, the Obama administration has been less than forthcoming in reporting the cost of the regulations it inflicts on Americans. For example, the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) reports that the regulatory costs provided by the Obama administration for 2013 did not include seven of the major new regulations enacted and the costs of nine of the regulations that were reported on were incomplete. The fact that the federal government finds it politically expedient to withhold accurate information about the cost of regulations is as scary as the regulations themselves.
Federal government agencies are working hard to enact as many new regulations as possible while President Obama is still in office. For example, according to the NCPA there are currently 2,305 new rules proposed by various regulatory agencies in Washington, D.C. Of these 125 are listed as “economically significant.” The term “economically significant” is bureaucratic double-talk for regulations that are going to cost the American taxpayer an arm and a leg and weaken an already anemic economy even further.
It is no exaggeration to claim that America is drowning in government regulations. American businesses find their hands tied by government red tape as they struggle to compete on the global stage against foreign businesses that have substantially fewer government regulations to contend with or are propped up by government subsidies. Money wasted paying the high cost of government regulations is money that could have been used to improve the economy, create jobs, and enhance the quality of life for individual Americans. Make no mistake about it. Regulations are not enacted for the good of American citizens and businesses. Rather, they are about political power and bureaucratic control.
President Obama and liberal bureaucrats in his regulatory agencies have created a huge stumbling block to economic recovery. The pertinent question now becomes: What can be done to stop the regulatory onslaught and bring some common sense to the situation? James Gattuso and Diane Katz of the Heritage Foundation recommend the following reforms:
- Require Congressional approval of major regulations.
- Require an in-depth analysis of the costs and consequences of any legislation that authorizes new regulations before the bills can be voted on.
- Require a sunset deadline on all major regulations so that those that pass do not remain on the books forever.
- Require a review of so-called independent regulation making agencies as part of the White House regulatory review process. These independent agencies—such as the Securities and Exchange Commission—should be subject to the same reviews as executive branch agencies.
Every regulation passed in Washington, D.C. increases the burden of business leaders who are trying to compete on the global stage as well as small businesses whose markets are local. Complying with regulations that are onerous, burdensome, and unnecessary does more than increase the cost of doing business and kill jobs it takes money directly out of the pockets of hard-working Americans who have precious little to spare.