Federal Regulatory Costs Soared in First Six Months of Year

Published August 1, 2014

With the national debt exceeding $17 trillion, more than $200 billion a year to comply with government regulations might not seem shocking. It should, says Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum and author of a recent report on regulatory spending.

In his report, Batkins notes the federal government published more than $100 billion in new regulatory costs in just the first six months of 2014. By comparison, last year the government did not reach $100 billion in costs until the end of December. At the current pace, new regulatory costs will top $200 billion by the end of 2014.

Earlier this year, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual “10,000 Commandments” reports estimated federal regulations cost the economy $1.8 trillion in 2013.

Batkins examined every proposal and finalized regulation in the Federal Register for the first half of 2014 and extracted data regarding costs and hours to be spent on paperwork.

Energy, Environmental Regs Dominate

Among his findings: The Department of Energy has imposed more in new regulatory costs than any other federal agency. The DOE and Environmental Protection Agency, combined, accounted for almost all the increased regulatory costs during the first half of the year.

The increase in regulatory spending has occurred, at least in part, because of President Barack Obama’s “Year of Action,” said Batkins. 

The “Year of Action” involves 40 specific White House initiatives, ranging from promoting economic development to raising the minimum wage and increasing motor vehicles’ fuel efficiency. Batkins said each of these proposed programs comes at a cost.

Meanwhile, the White House has released a 42-page report proudly announcing “an update on what President Obama has done this year to help ensure opportunity for all Americans.”

Obama Unconcerned About Costs

“The President is confident in the legality and soundness of his actions from a policy perspective,” said Batkins. “The administration understands that these measures will have costs, but it is more than happy to defend the benefits of these measures. They were aware a ‘Year of Action’ would have burdens, and might be unconcerned with the political ramifications.”

“If all the regulations are finalized, the average American will see higher health care premiums, higher gasoline prices, higher energy prices, and more expensive vehicles,” said Batkins. “Energy regulations might directly affect utilities, but consumers are ultimately responsible for paying the bill.”

Heather Kays ([email protected]) writes from River Edge, New Jersey.