U.S. Rep. Tom Cole
Special to The Sun
With each day, there is something to report about our economic situation. Unfortunately, the news is rarely promising, and we are constantly reminded that we still hold more than $17 trillion in debt. While there are several drivers of our debt, the introduction and enforcement of federal regulations has become one of the costliest to taxpayers and job creators, slowing our economic recovery.
Last year, the Code of Federal Regulations covered 174,545 pages, a figure that is 20 percent higher than it was 10 years ago. Even though the quantity of regulations introduced each year hasn’t increased much more under this administration than others, taxpayers have instead suffered a greater cost burden from new rules.
After just four years in office, the Obama Administration has increased the regulatory burden by nearly $70 billion with $23.5 billion attributed to 2012 alone. In fact, the Office of Management and Budget reported 2012 as the most expensive for regulatory costs to date. This is due in large part to the introduction and enforcement of many “economically significant” rules or those having an annual impact of at least $100 million. The rate at which these costly regulations are introduced has become particularly alarming.
When split up by household, the annual regulatory cost amounts to $14,678 per family. For most families, the only thing more expensive than that are the funds set aside for housing costs. The sharp increase in regulatory cost is due primarily to the types of rules that have been implemented.
Last year and expected in the future, the costliest rules are those related to the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, Obamacare and various efforts from the Environmental Protection Agency.
While the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and the Consumer Protection Act were signed into law in 2010, the actual cost of its implementation continues to grow. Written in response to the recession and with the goal of increasing compliance within the financial services industry, it has instead created a new burden for job creators, currently requiring more than 58.5 million hours of paperwork to adequately meet the guidelines. Increased compliance means higher cost for companies because more hours are worked. While new responsibilities are created in the process, the cost prevents many (especially small businesses) from expanding. When companies cannot expand, they can’t or won’t hire, which hurts the unemployment situation and does nothing for our economic recovery.
Not surprisingly, another regulatory cost culprit comes from the implementation of Obamacare. By July 2010, there were already 3,833 pages of federal regulations just from the healthcare law. Even though the nation was promised affordability by the president when he pushed his healthcare agenda — just in the beginning phases of its implementation — it has proven to be anything but simple or beneficial. We’ve already experienced tax increases associated with the law earlier this year, but this is just the beginning, as numerous regulations are still set to be enforced.
The EPA continually imposes expensive regulations that hurt domestic energy exploration and production. Most recently, its regulations for fuel standards and cutting down on carbon emissions from vehicles was the highest reported. In order to comply with these new standards, vehicle producers will have to charge at least $1,800 more per vehicle.
Earlier this month, House Republicans acknowledged that federal agencies must be held accountable for the rules they choose to enforce. In an effort to prevent unnecessary regulations that hurt individuals and job creators, we introduced and passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act). This bill allows Congress to step in and use its constitutional lawmaking authority by requiring that Congress and the president both approve major regulations before enforcement. By overseeing the activity of federal agencies, this legislation preserves the authority and responsibility of the legislative branch and prevents abuse.
Federal regulations have certainly become enemies of our job creators, job seekers and small businesses. Our federal agencies and president must be held accountable.
U.S. REP. TOM COLE, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.