Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) spoke at a Business Roundtable gathering recently, making a concise point about the accountability that comes with elective office. Americans are over-regulated, he argued, and the un-elected regulators escape accountability. Congress has surrendered its responsibilities.
His comments came to mind this week when we happened upon the website of The American Action Forum, a public policy institute that approaches issues from a positive, center-right perspective. The group puts out a weekly summary of the regulatory leviathon. Here's "The Week in Regulation: September 26-30," and we ask their indulgence in quoting the summary in its entirety.
This week pushed the Federal Register over 60,000 pages. Three Dodd-Frank regulations headlined a $110.6 million week, with more than 117,000 proposed or final paperwork burden hours.
Administrative agencies proposed 61 rules and implemented 89 final rules. Federal agencies issued 19 new documents “deemed significant under [Executive Order] 12866,” bringing the yearly total to 468 according to the Federal Register; the federal government has issued 61,032 pages of regulations in 2011.
The Federal Reserve, Treasury, and SEC each produced a rulemaking pursuant to Dodd-Frank implementation. SEC’s “Prohibition Against Conflicts of Interest in Certain Securities” would impose 11,260 paperwork hours, with $4.5 million in costs.
The Treasury Department published a proposed rule aimed at removing regulations with “any reference to or requirement of reliance on credit ratings” and to substitute alternative standards of credit worthiness.
The Federal Reserve’s rulemaking begins implementation of a Dodd-Frank provision requiring financial institutions to report information on credit applications made by “women or minority-owned businesses and small businesses.” There were no initial cost estimates for this proposed rule.
Click here to view the total estimated compliance costs from Dodd-Frank; since passage the legislation has produced (in proposed and enacted rules) more than 25.1 million new paperwork burden hours.
There were no major Affordable Care Act regulations this week. Since passage, the Affordable Care Act has imposed an estimated $8.2 billion in private-sector burdens, approximately $2.2 billion in costs to the states, and 27.1 million annual paperwork hours.
Finally, the Transportation Department produced the most expensive proposal of the week ($72.6 million). The proposed rule requires U.S. and foreign carriers to increase website accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Airport kiosks and ticket agents must also comply with the regulation.
At the current pace, the total regulatory burden for 2011 (proposed and final) will exceed $105 billion. Since January 1, the federal government has imposed more than 81.9 million annual paperwork burden hours and $79.99 billion in compliance costs.
So federal agencies have issued 468 "significant" documents this year. In comparison, Congress has passed and President Obama has signed into law 36 pieces of legislation. (Here's the list.) Some are minor -- post office namings -- and many just extended existing spending authority, now standard operating procedure. But the numbers tell the tale: The bureaucracy, not Congress, is now making the majority of federal law.
Business Roundtable recently issued a paper calling for major regulatory reforms, "Achieving Smarter Regulation." It won't restore the balance of power among the branches of government, but it would at least bring some discipline and restraint to federal regulation.
Topics: Financial Regulatory Reform.
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