Huge Growth in Regulation

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Imperils Freedom

By

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

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Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D., the editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, brings his 30 years of experience in government and professional writing and broadcast journalism to your audience. Vernuccio provides insights that captivate listeners.

The impact of the astronomical growth of the federal government’s bureaucracy is becoming increasingly evident and worrisome. The cost can not only be counted in dollars, but in the shrinking rights of the citizenry.An example can be seen in the Environmental Protection Agency’s addition to the Clean Waters Act. Under this draconian provision, 60% of water, including, absurdly, ponds and irrigation ditches on private property fall under the EPA’s control.

While this problem has been growing for decades, it has accelerated to an unprecedented degree under the Obama Administration and moved into many areas, such as free speech, which go to the very core of citizen rights. The President’s attempts to put monitors in newsrooms and his transfer of the Internet from private to government control are the most noticeable examples.

The Heritage Foundation’s “Opportunity for All” report notes that “in the five years following President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, 15,794 new rules were published in the federal register, of which 403 were classified as major.”

“In his January 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama vowed to wield his executive powers when faced with congressional resistance to his legislative agenda: ‘America does not stand still—and neither will I’, he said. ‘So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation … that’s what I am going to do.’ This provocative declaration was startling in its bluntness, but it was hardly a new policy.

“During its first five years, the Obama Administration aggressively exploited regulation to get its way. Issuing 157 new major rules at a cost to Americans approaching $73 billion annually, this Administration is very likely the most regulatory in U.S. history. Of course, preceding Administrations also have increased regulation, albeit to a lesser degree. And regulatory overreach by the executive branch is only part of the problem. Congress, too, is a major culprit. Lawmakers routinely delegate their policy-making powers to regulatory agencies.

Furthermore, much of the red tape imposed over the past five years has been driven by “independent” agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which are outside direct presidential control.“From finance to telecommunications, these agencies have added to the regulatory tide swamping American businesses and families. And there are many more regulations to come; agencies have identified 120 additional major rules they intend to work on, including dozens linked to the 2010 Dodd–Frank financial regulation law and Obamacare. Of particular concern is that the FCC has launched yet another attempt to regulate Internet traffic. Reforms of the regulatory process are critically needed.

Among these: requiring congressional approval before any new major regulation takes effect, requiring analyses of the regulatory consequences of all proposed legislation before a vote by Congress is held, setting sunset deadlines in law for all major regulations, and including ‘independent’ agencies in the White House regulatory review process.”

Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute has written that the Administrative bureaucracy has grown so large that it now constitutes an entire “extralegal” government. He believes that “aspects of America’s legal system have become lawless” since whole portions of this administrative structure are used not for appropriate law enforcement but to achieve the social and political goals of bureaucrats. He notes in his new book “By The People” that the Code of Federal Regulations increased from 22,877 pages in 1960 to 174,545 pages in 2012.

Murray also points out that if you disagree with any of these rules, which you as a citizen had no real say in their development, in most cases your only recourse is to appeal to the very agency that you disagree with.

Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute outlines the facts that describe this challenge:

Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.
If U.S. federal regulation was a country, it would be the world’s 10th largest economy, ranking behind Russia and ahead of India.
Economy-wide regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,976 per household – around 29 percent of an average family budget of $51,100. Although not paid directly by individuals, this “cost” of regulation exceeds the amount an average family spends on health care, food and transportation.
The “Unconstitutionality Index” is the ratio of regulations issued by unelected agency officials compared to legislation enacted by Congress in a given year. In 2014, agencies issued 16 new regulations for every law—that’s 3,554 new regulations compared to 224 new laws.
Many Americans complain about taxes, but regulatory compliance costs exceed what the IRS is expected to collect in both individual and corporate income taxes for last year—by more than $160 billion.
Some 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have 3,415 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline. The top six federal rulemaking agencies account for 48 percent of all federal regulations. These are the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human Services and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The 2014 Federal Register contains 77,687 pages, the sixth highest page count in its history. Among the six all-time-high Federal Register total page counts, five occurred under President Obama.
The George W. Bush administra­tion averaged 62 major regulations annually over eight years, while the Obama administration has averaged 81 major regulations annually over six years. But it’s not just official federal issues that are affected. As Charles Murray points out, “Federal funds account for about a quarter of state and local revenues. Some large proportion of state and local employees are, for practical purposes, federal employees.