Federal regulations cost $4 trillion

money in fistA new study out from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center reveals how federal regulations are keeping the economy from reaching its full potential.

The researchers looked at the cumulative cost of federal regulations affecting 22 industries and enacted from 1977 to 2012. They found that the regulations have cost the economy $4 trillion and hampered growth by about 25 percent.

“The impact of regulation on economic growth has been widely studied, but most research has focused on a narrow set of regulations, industries, or both,” said the report. “These studies typically rely on regulatory indexes that measure subsets of all regulation, on country-to-country comparisons, on short time spans, or on surveys in which experts report how regulated they believe their country or industry is.

“In order to better understand the cumulative cost of regulation, a comprehensive look at all regulations across many industries over a long period of time is imperative.”

Taking in the massive numbers, it also helps to break things down to a little more personal level. So consider this: If federal officials could have managed to keep regulations at a constant level since 1980, every American would have an extra $13,000 a year in pocket money today.

All that extra money would help to drive additional economic growth instead of shrinking the economy by an average of 0.8 percent per year as regulations do.

“By altering investment decisions and disrupting the innovation that comes from investment in knowledge creation, regulations have a cumulative and detrimental effect on economic growth—and, over time, have a real impact on American families and workers,” the study said.

Unfortunately, regulatory overload isn’t going away anytime soon. President Barack Obama is on track to push through thousands of costly new regulations before he leaves the White House.

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