Regulatory agencies are creating hidden taxes

dollar symbol among question marksRegulatory agencies have grown so out of control in the United States that they are referred to as the fourth branch of government. Yet, no one really knows just how much all the regulations created by those agencies cost taxpayers.

That’s why the Competitive Enterprise Institute is leading a push for Congress to include the regulatory budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the government’s fiscal 2017 budget.

In a letter to lawmakers, the libertarian-leaning think tank said that the need for reform and transparency in regulatory costs is an urgent economic matter.

From the letter: “The government’s cost burden imposed on American families and businesses extends well beyond taxes, deficits, and borrowing. The country spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year on red tape. That’s a big drain on the economy, entrepreneurship and job creation. And, it is more than simply regulated businesses who pay the price. Just as firms pass on tax costs, firms also pass on regulatory compliance costs. This burden has not gone unnoticed, as the most recent edition of Gallup’s annual Governance survey found, 49 percent of Americans say the government regulates business too much, while 21 percent say it regulates too little, a near-low percentage.”

Price’s legislation would require the government to establish a list of annual costs of regulations and show a breakdown of where among the government’s agencies the costs originate.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee earlier this month in an effort to shine light on how far regulatory overreach has grown out of control.

He told lawmakers that regulatory agencies have essentially grown into a “fourth branch of government containing legislative, executive and judicial components but relatively little direct public influence.”

And as Reason pointed out: “It’s hard to argue with the numbers: In one recent year alone, Congress passed 138 laws—while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules. Federal judges conduct about 95,000 trials a year, but federal agencies conduct nearly 1 million. Put all that together and you have a situation in which one branch of government, the executive, is arrogating to itself the powers of the other two.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute views this as a sign that Congress needs to retake the power to legislate.

“With the recognition of the regulatory hidden tax alongside the budgetary one, we urge Congress to seize this unique opportunity to assert control over the regulatory state and enact significant reforms,” it said.

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