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Overreach? 81,000 Rules Issued by Feds Since 1993

A Senate aide delivers federal regulations dealing with the Affordable Care Act, printed out and bound in red tape, for a debate on the budget in the Senate at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, March 22, 2013.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released its annual “Ten Thousand Commandments” report this month that goes over the regulations that have been issued by Washington over the course of the year and the financial consequences of those rules. 81,000 Rules have been issued since 1993, at a rate of 9 per day, costing Americans $1.8 trillion in total to comply with federal regulations. The report notes that tegulatory costs amount to $14,678 per family – 23 percent of the average household income of $63,685 and 30 percent of the expenditure budget of $49,705 and more than receipts from corporate and personal income taxes combined.

Is this what the founders intended? The Washington Examiner used Jefferson as their example:

Washington politicians and bureaucrats seem to have forgotten that one of the key charges against King George III in the Declaration of Independence was that he had "erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

But it was not primarily the heavy economic cost of the King's multitudes and swarms that so worried the founders as much as the unaccountability that resulted. As Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, put it a few years before his death: "Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure."

The CEI report illustrates that in our era government agencies feel free to manipulate thousands of regulations to serve questionably motivated purposes not "common sense."

On 'Real News' Wednesday the panel discussed the overwhelming scope of the regulation coming out of Washington today, and why its spiraling out of control. Watch a clip from the segment below:


Correction: An early version of this article referred to 81,000 rules in 2012, not 81,000 rules since 1993

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