It isn't just that the federal government has lots of regulations -- and it does; the Code of Federal Regulation takes up more than 20 feet of shelf space -- but that the government keeps producing more. The Wall Street Journal points out just how much reading Americans must keep up on if they don't want to violate the law:
"Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules consuming 26,417 pages in the Federal Register. While plenty of government employees deserve credit for this milestone, leadership matters. And by this measure President Obama has never been surpassed in the Oval Office."
The Federal Register is the daily record of federal activities. If you want to keep up with what Washington is doing to you in your name, you'd have 79,311 pages to read in 2013, the Journal reports. The newspaper is giving a sneak peek at the Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual "10,000 Commandments," a book that measures the regulatory onslaught. You can see past copies here; the new edition comes out from editor Wayne Crews on April 29.
Some of those regulations may be good and necessary. But all 26,417 pages of them? Any benefits come at a cost, the Journal reports:
"Drawing largely on government statistics, Mr. Crews estimates that the overall cost of regulatory compliance and its economic impact is about $1.9 trillion annually. This means that the burden of complying with federal rules costs roughly the annual GDP of Australia, Canada or Italy.
"This regulatory tax makes U.S. businesses less competitive, but it also burdens every American because it is embedded in the prices of all goods and services. Mr. Crews estimates that "U.S. households "pay" $14,974 annually in regulatory hidden tax,' or 23% of the average income of $65,596."
President Obama laments that, five years into his own presidency, many Americans are working harder and harder just to get by. A federal government that imposes nearly $15,000 per household in regulatory costs passed on in the price of everything we buy might have something to do with that.