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CEI - Ten Thousand Commandments: Regulations Increasingly Used to Enact Measures Voters Wouldn't Approve

Obama Administration Piles On Regs In Areas Where Congress Wouldn't Cooperate


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 21, 2013 – In the twenty years since the creation of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, one trend has become clear: The regulatory state is growing in large part because the executive branch increasingly uses its control over rulemaking to enact policies it could not get approved by Congress.

According to the new edition of the report, released today by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans spend an estimated $1.8 trillion a year to comply with federal regulations. For the first time, that’s more than half the level of total federal expenditures. Agencies spend $61 billion per year just to administer and enforce federal regulations—a 50 percent increase in the last decade.

The 2012 Federal Register ranks fourth all-time with 78,961 pages, but three of the top four years, including the top two, occurred during the Obama administration. The 2010s are on pace to average 80,000 pages per year—up from 170,000 in the 1960s and 450,000 in the ‘70s.

Completed rules reviewed in the federal Unified Agenda compilation of priority regulations went up 16 percent in the last year and 40 percent the year before.

There are more federal regulations than ever—the Code of Federal Regulations, which compiles all federal regulations, grew by more than 4,000 pages last year and now stands at 174,545 pages, spread over 238 volumes. Its index alone runs to more than 1,100 pages.

Government has added more than 80,000 regulations in the last 20 years—3,708 in the last year alone. That’s one new rule Americans must live under every 2½ hours. Today, 4,062 sit in the pipeline. Those will add at least $22 billion in compliance costs and probably much more.

The dramatic growth in federal regulation did not begin with President Obama. The Federal Register stood at 75,606 in 2002—the sixth-highest level—and has been above 70,000 every year since except for 2009. But since then, it has recorded three of the four busiest years for regulatory activity in history.

And when it comes to economically significant rules—those expected to cost $100 million or more in compliance costs—the Obama administration is the unchallenged champion. Of the 4,062 rules in the pipeline, 224 are in this category. That level is 24 percent higher than President Bush’s most active year and far higher than any other year since 2000—except for 2010, which was tied.

The “Big Five” rulemakers—the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, the Interior, Agriculture and Transportation—account for 43 percent of that. EPA ranks sixth in rule making, but EPA regs, which are especially subject to being used to enact policies that would likely not pass muster with voters, are up 44 percent in the first Obama term and cost American taxpayers $353 billion per year—the most of any agency.

“It’s not just the politicization of the regulatory process,” said Wayne Crews, author of the report and vice president for policy at CEI. “It’s about transparency. It’s about cost and burden analysis. It’s about real outside audits of federal agencies. Asking agencies to audit themselves and identify their own weaknesses is like asking students to grade their own tests.”

The stakes are not insignificant. Americans implicitly spend nearly $15,000 per family to comply with federal regulations. That’s more than they spend on anything else except housing.

Crews cites two paths for reform. One is to enact true transparency and cost analyses. The other is to go to the source of the matter—the systematic over-delegation of rulemaking power to agencies. “Requiring expedited votes on economically significant or controversial agency rules before they become binding on the people would reestablish congressional accountability and help affirm the principle of ‘no regulation without representation,’” Crews said.

What do all these new rules do? The Department of Agriculture enacted a Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee program and new regulations concerning importation of unmanufactured wood articles. Health and Human Services added a spate of rules related to the Affordable Care Act and a review of what constitutes a single serving for labeling purposes.

The Department of Labor instituted a hearing conservation program for construction workers. The Department of Energy established conservation standards for wine chillers, battery chargers, TVs, residential humidifiers and mobile home furnaces. The Department of Transportation updated its regs on head restraints and rear center lap and shoulder belts. The Department of the Treasury prohibited funding of unlawful Internet gambling.

“What we’ve done for 20 years is round up the data that expose the hidden tax of regulation,” said Crews. “Government’s reach extends well beyond Washington’s taxes, deficits and borrowing. And these are costs we all pay—through higher taxes or lower wages.”

Read the 2013 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments

Read the 2013 Ten Thousand Commandments Fact Sheet

Browse the archive of past editions of the report

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website,, and blogs, and  Follow CEI on Twitter!


ALG's Daily Grind - Arrogance is Obama's worst enemy 

May 20, 2013

Arrogance is Obama's worst enemy

Obama's breached relationship with the media is the greatest threat to his presidency and his legacy, but does he even realize it?

Greens oppose drilling, fracking, Keystone… and exports

Drilling opponents claim to be protecting the environment. In reality, they simply detest hydrocarbons, modern living standards, free enterprise and personal liberty.

IRS rules already clear on 501(c)(4) political activity

ALG's Mehrens: "Targeting organizations for special scrutiny on the belief that they might exercise their First Amendment protected rights to engage in political activity in is an egregious violation of the freedom of speech. If it had been done consistently for groups of all stripes would not have made it better."

Wall Street Journal: The Doubly Illegal NLRB

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals rules that another one of Obama's "recess" NLRB appointments violated the Constitution.


ALG praises D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for overturning NLRB poster ruling

May 8, 2013, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government General Counsel Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement praising a ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for overturning a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that had compelled employers to hang a Board-mandated poster not explicitly provided for under law:

"The court made the right decision here, finding the Board cannot make the failure to post a Board-mandated poster an unfair labor practice because, among other reasons, the Board could not make an employer's speech advising employees that they do not have to join a union an unfair labor practice.  Also, because the poster requirement had no basis in the statute itself, the court ruled the Board cannot just make up what it deems to be an unfair labor practice and then compel employers to abide by their arbitrary definition.

"The court also tossed the tolling provision in the rule and held that because the Board wouldn't have promulgated the rule without those provisions that the rest falls also.  Two judges would have gone even further to hold that the Board lacks the statutory jurisdiction to promulgate the rule in the first place.

"Interestingly, the court in dicta called into question whether the recess appointment of Craig Becker to the Board was legitimate, assuming without deciding it was constitutionally invalid. But since even without Becker, there was still a Senate-confirmed quorum of Board members, his recess appointment was not at issue in this case. For other cases, however, that likely will not be so.

"All of which underscores the foolishness and arrogance of the White House in making these so-called recess appointments to the Board in the first place — as well as to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — when Congress was not even in recess. We expect more rulings will come down in this direction and never again will a president be able to imagine a congressional recess into existence."

To view online:


Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties. For more information on ALG please call us at 703-383-0880 or visit our website at


CEI Today: House rebukes NLRB, US approves Japan in trade agreement, and a terrible Senate carbon tax bill 

NLRB - MATT PATTERSON House Of Representatives Rebukes Rogue NLRB

On Friday, April 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act, a laudable attempt to rein in President Obama’s unconstitutionally staffed — and therefore illegitimate — National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (HR 1120) requires the NLRB to “cease all activity that requires a three member quorum” in an attempt to bring some sense of order to a labor market thrown into chaos by a Board comprised of unconstitutional appointees issuing hundreds of now questionable rulings.

Before the vote, the Competitive Enterprise Institute had released a statement urging members to support the bill. > Read more

> Interview Matt Patterson

TRADE - FRAN SMITH U.S. Agrees To Japan’s Entry Into Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

On Friday, the Acting U.S. Trade Representative announced that the U.S. has agreed to let Japan enter negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, subject to consensus agreement by the other 10 members of the TPP.

With Japan’s entry into the TPP, the 12 countries would account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP and about one-third of all world trade, according to the USTR. The sticky issues have been and probably will continue to involve the automotive and insurance industries and other non-tariff measures. > Read more

> Interview Fran Smith

SENATE CARBON TAX BILL - MARLO LEWIS 400,000 Lost Jobs by 2016 — Heritage Study of Boxer-Sanders Carbon Tax Proposal

Heritage Foundation analysts David Kreutzer and Kevin Dayaratna yesterday released a study on the economic impact of carbon tax legislation (the Climate Security Act of 2013) sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The Boxer-Sanders legislation would establish a new tax that starts at $20 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted and increases by 5.6% annually. > Read more

> Interview Marlo Lewis







JUNE 20, 2013


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website,, and blogs, and  Follow CEI on Twitter!


CEI Lauds, Will Keyvote Members on NLRB Reform Measure 

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2013 - Today the House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation that would require the National Labor Relations Board to cease all activity that requires a three-member quorum and to prohibit NLRB from “enforcing any action taken after January 2012 that required a quorum.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute commends supporters of the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (H.R. 1120) – sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions – and plans to update its Congressional Labor Scorecard to reflect how members of Congress vote on H.R 1120.

CEI Labor Project Director Matt Patterson said, "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has unanimously held President Obama’s three so-called ‘recess appointments’ to the NLRB were unconstitutional.  The legitimacy of every ruling the NLRB has made since January of last year is therefore in question, throwing even more uncertainty on a business community already plagued by high tax and regulatory burdens. H.R 1120 is not only a good idea but absolutely necessary to help bring stability and to preserve the integrity of the U.S. Constitution.”

Labor Policy Analyst Trey Kovacs added: "Rep. Phil Roe’s bill The Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act is a commonsense measure that will help rein in overreaching bureaucrats and bring certainty back to workplace law.”

The Congressional Labor Scorecard is an ongoing project of, CEI's labor policy website. You can read more about H.R. 1120 here:

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website,, and blogs, and  Follow CEI on Twitter!

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