The Obama administration has finalized nearly $100 billion worth of new regulations this year, according to a new report by a government regulatory watchdog.
“Since January 1, the federal government has published $137.5 billion in compliance costs ($99.27 billion in final rules) and has imposed 121 million in net paperwork burden hours (85.7 million from final rules),” writes Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the right-leaning American Action Forum (AAF).
AAF’s Batkins found federal agencies imposed more than $1.7 billion in regulatory costs last week alone, because of new rules for defense contractors and data practices for regulated laboratories. New regulations in 2016 cost each American $424, according to AAF.
But Batkins’ report only underscores the tip of the regulatory cost-berg. Independent estimates put the total regulatory burden in the U.S. at $1.9 trillion in 2015, with much of this burden falling on small business.
A report by the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) found federal regulations amount to a $15,000 a year “hidden tax” on families. Regulatory costs exceed what the federal government expected to collect from corporate and individual incomes taxes in 2015.
“The federal government has become very savvy in hiding costs by expanding their reach beyond taxes into regulations,” CEI’s Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. said in April. “Unfortunately, regulatory costs get little attention in policy debates, because unlike taxes, they are difficult to quantify because they are unbudgeted and often indirect.”
“But the impacts of burdensome regulations are very real and increase costs for consumers and businesses, limiting productivity and a thriving free market,” he said.
Batkins’ found labor, healthcare and environmental regulations have added the most to the federal government’s total regulatory burden in 2016. New energy and environmental regulations will add more than $20 billion in costs, according to AAF.
The Department of Energy’s new efficiency standards on air conditioners and heaters is the costliest of the energy and environment regulations proposed by the Obama administration. It’s expected to cost $15 billion, or more than $700 million a year.
The Department of the Interior’s recent Arctic drilling regulation is expected to cost $2 billion, and impose more than 3,900 hours of new paperwork requirements.
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