Ten Thousand Commandments is the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual survey of the federal regulatory state. Authored by CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews, it shines a light on the large, growing, and hidden costs of America’s regulatory state.
The scope of federal government spending and deficits is sobering, but federal regulations cost hundreds of billions – perhaps trillions – of dollars annually. Unfortunately, they get little attention in policy debates. Regulatory costs are difficult to quantify because, unlike taxes, they are unbudgeted and often indirect. Ten Thousand Commandments compiles scattered government and private data on the numbers and costs of regulations and about the agencies that issue them, in an attempt to make the regulatory state more comprehensible.
Highlights of the 2014 Edition Include:
- Combined with $3.454 trillion in federal spending, Washington’s share of the economy now reaches 31 percent.
- Costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.863 trillion in 2013. That is more than the GDPs of Canada or Australia.
- This is the 21st edition of Ten Thousand Commandments. In that time, 87,282 final rules have been issued. That’s more than 3,500 per year or about nine per day.
- The “Unconstitutionality Index” is the ratio of regulations issued by agencies compared to legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. The ratio stood at 51 for 2013. That means there were 72 new laws and 3,659 new rules – 51 rules for every law, or a new rule every 2 ½ hours.
- Regulatory costs amount to an average of $14,974 per household – 23 percent of the average household income of $65,596 and 29 percent of the expenditure budget of $51,442. This exceeds every item in the household budget except housing – more than health care, food, transportation, entertainment, apparel, services, and savings. Some 63 departments, agencies and commissions have regulations in the pipeline.
- The 2013 Federal Register contains 79,311 pages, the fourth highest ever. The top two all-time totals are 81,405 pages in 2010 and 81,247 in 2011, both under Obama.
- The top six federal rulemaking agencies account for 49.3 percent of all federal rules. In 2013, these were the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human Services, and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Small businesses pay more in per-employee regulatory costs. Firms with fewer than 20 employees pay an average of $10,585 per employee, compared to $7,755 for those with 500 or more employees.