A few weeks ago we had a terrific discussion on the site about our wish list of fundamental reforms to the federal government. Several of you rightly noted the need to recalibrate Washington by shifting the ever-growing power of the administrative state back to our elected officials. A lecture by the Heritage Foundation's Robert Moffit, transcribed in the newest digest from Heritage's Center for Policy Innovation (links to a PDF) underscores just how severe the problem has become:
Since president Obama took office in 2009, federal agencies issued 106 major regulations with an annual additional cost to the economy of $46 billion. In 2010, economists with the Small Business Administration estimated that the total cost of America’s regulatory burden reached $1.75 trillion— more than twice what Americans pay in individual income taxes.
In 2010 alone, Congress enacted 217 bills that became law, but that same year, federal agencies issued 3,573 final rules covering a wide variety of economic activities.
A bit of anecdotal background: my first job in politics was working as a staffer in the House Government Affairs Committee of the Tennessee General Assembly, one of the responsibilities of which was serving as the committee of first jurisdiction on changes or additions to the state's rules and regulations. Watching elected officials attempt to vet thousands of pages of highly technical bureaucratic minutiae in a single 45-minute committee hearing was enough to make anyone question whether representative democracy could coexist with the administrative state.
"The king dies but the bureaucracy is immortal"