$1.9 trillion: The cost of regulation in 2015

President Obama hasn’t given much credence to the idea that America is suffering from overregulation, and his policies have proven that. Late last year, he debuted a new EPA rule that has been called “the most expensive regulation ever.” “Economically significant” regulations have exploded in the Obama era. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Wayne Crews has done exhaustive work cataloging regulation in America, and his new report on regulation for 2015, Tip of the Costberg, is an eye-opener.

Crews estimates that regulation will cost the American economy $1.882 trillion in 2015. This is a staggering figure and, as you might have guessed, more expensive than 2014. It’s larger than the entire GDP of all but 11 countries in the entire world – ahead of major developed nations like Australia and South Korea. Official government estimates, like those done by the Office of Management and Budget, only come out in the hundreds-of-billions range, which Crews says is an exercise in disastrous undercounting. Those official government statistics are, unsurprisingly, very friendly to government policy.

Crews breaks it down here – the largest costs belong to economic regulation, tax compliance, and environmental regulations:



As Crews writes:

OMB’s annual review increasingly encompasses an even smaller fraction of intervention than realized. Regulation today is a hidden tax equivalent to at least half the amount of the fiscal budget itself… our current regulatory oversight procedures, which omit independent agency rules and important interventions like guidance documents and the number of them, are inadequate.

Some of these numbers are so large that they become nearly meaningless. There are over one million federal regulation restrictions. There are over 175,000 pages in the Code of Federal regulations. As Scott Lincicome documented at The Federalist, we’re in an age of economic stagnation where it’s worth re-evaluating our regulatory state to try to find some way, any way, to give economic growth a kick-start.