Cost of Government Day


By:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Date: Aug. 23, 2011
Location: Unknown

The true cost of the federal government includes federal spending as well as the cost of federal regulation. This year you will work more than half of the year to pay for the cost of government.

Federal spending has jumped to $3.8 trillion in 2011 from $2.9 trillion in 2008--a 31% increase according to a new report from the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (ATRF). The cost of individuals and businesses complying with federal regulations adds another $1.8 trillion to the burdens imposed on you.

To more accurately measure the real cost of government, ATRF calculated a Cost of Government Day. It is determined each year by adding the cost of government spending at all levels to the cost of all regulations - and then counting how many days of the year Americans work to pay the costs of government.

The Tax Foundation divides total federal, state and local taxes by total national income to come up with Tax Freedom Day. This year you worked until April 12 to pay all taxes. Adding federal deficit spending and the cost of regulation this year, makes the Cost of Government Day - August 12. This year, you will work for 103 days to pay for federal spending, 44 days for state and local spending and 77 days to cover the cost of the regulatory burden.

This is the third year in a row that Americans will work into August to pay for the cost of government. Before 2009, the day never fell later than July 21. During the presidency of George W. Bush, however, Cost of Government Day moved forward to July 16 in 2008, from June 28 in 2000, costing taxpayers 18 days of extra labor. Since he took office, President Barack Obama has pushed the day all the way forward to Aug. 12. In other words, Americans are now working 27 more days per year to pay for government spending and regulations than on the day Mr. Obama became president.

Excessive federal regulation is in effect a growing tax on small businesses and consumers that stifles job creation, hampers innovation and postpones investment in the economy. When the regulatory game is always changing as it is now, small businesses cannot properly plan for the future.

To provide more stability, we must require congressional approval of any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million or more. This is the benchmark at which the government deems a regulation "economically significant." If a regulation is so "significant" and costly that it may harm job creation, Congress should vote on it first.


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Member of Congress

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