But even a state like Maryland — a place which is doing its best to be a socialist paradise, with the added advantage to that end of being the residence for thousands of federal bureaucrats — doesn’t hold a candle to the power embodied in authoring federal regulations themselves. As the CEI report notes, the Federal Register now weighs in at over 80,000 pages — about six dozen copies of Atlas Shrugged stacked high. Each of those pages can be used as a landmine to discourage competition and reward corporate friends if written in just the right manner.
Closer to home, both corporate winners and losers have to make up the huge hit that regulations present to their bottom line in higher prices, passed on to wholesalers and end-users. This phenomenon was illustrated best when gas prices last surged toward $4 a gallon a few years back — suddenly service bills sprouted new “fuel surcharges” as a line item. (In a lot of cases, though, these additional tolls didn’t disappear once gasoline retreated under $2 a gallon.)
Our bills don’t have a separate line item for regulatory costs. The CEI report attempts to illustrate the impact at a federal level, but it misses the additional price passed on by state and local government. Even a nearly $4 trillion federal budget doesn’t scratch the fiscal surface of what regulations hold back from an eleven-figure economy.