No end in sight for the regulatory tsunami

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The Biden administration is on a regulatory tear, actively pursuing 2,673 rules over the next 12 months. This unconstrained expansion of the administrative state exacerbates runaway inflation and inhibits recovery from the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Unified Agenda for Regulatory and Deregulatory Action, a semi-annual publication, lists the regulatory actions and ambitions of dozens of executive branch departments, agencies, commissions, offices and boards. Counting active, long-term and completed actions, the president’s spring to-do list includes 3,803 regulatory actions.

Some regulations are necessary to enforce the laws, but each federal dictate acts as a stealth tax on the American people and the American economy. And there’s really no reason for the federal government to police whether employers take oral or liquid samples for drug testing. Or to prescribe electrical standards for every type of appliance imaginable, including ice makers, portable electric spas, ceiling fan light kits, and computer room air conditioners – to name a few. only a few (literally).

Indeed, President Biden’s agenda is replete with dictates governing every aspect of daily life, including how Americans heat their homes and light their bedrooms, the food they buy and how they cook it, and the cars what they drive and how to feed them.

The cost is astronomical, but none of the 454 agencies listed in the Federal Register tracks regulatory costs on a cumulative or aggregate basis. The most widely quoted estimate for the private sector is $2 trillion. Biden’s agenda calls for adding tens of billions more.

As it stands, the current regulatory paperwork burden totals 10.3 billion hours per year at a cost of $143 billion. Another measure of unbridled regulatory output: the Code of Federal Regulations grew in volume to 188,346 pages, an increase of 36% since 2000 and 164% since 1975.

Compared to its predecessors, the Biden administration easily exceeds the volume and scope of regulatory measures designated as “major” — that is, each is expected to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or so. more.

The new program includes 217 “major” actions, a 147% increase over former President Donald Trump and 75% more than even former President Barack Obama.

The administration also queued 574 long-term stocks.

The regulatory burden falls inexorably on low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes, as compliance costs translate into higher consumer prices that eat up a relatively larger portion of their household budget.

Small businesses are also disproportionately affected, forced to incur out-of-pocket expenses such as purchasing new industrial equipment, process and product reengineering, recycling, record keeping and administrative support, and legions of lawyers. The new program includes 271 actions designated as “affecting small entities”.

Most of the rules in the latest program come from the Departments of the Interior (283), Treasury (262) and Transportation (228). The interior list is dominated by Endangered Species Act regulations, such as Florida crabgrass, oblong snail, and Texas Heelsplitter (as opposed to the South Carolina variety).

The Treasury is most strongly committed to empowering the Internal Revenue Service.

And Transportation is dealing with regulations for accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft and specifications for a new side crash test dummy representative of a 50th percentile male.

Leading the second tier with 140 agenda items, the Environmental Protection Agency is expanding the network of global warming dictates. None will have an effect on the climate, but all will advance Mr. Biden’s goal of cementing government control over energy.

After clearing store shelves of infant formula and banning e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration is now revising requirements for the voluntary use of the term “healthy” in food labeling.

From day one, the Biden administration has been dogged in its resolve to roll back the regulatory reforms of its predecessor. Unless compelled, Mr. Biden’s regulatory assault will overwhelm American entrepreneurship and diminish the freedoms this nation was founded on.

• Diane Katz is Senior Research Fellow in Regulatory Policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.


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