August 29, 2005

SUSAN DUDLEY offers some depressing news:

Before leaving town earlier this month, Congress approved nearly $300 billion in increased spending. But spending, supported through taxes, is not the only way the federal government diverts resources from the private sector to accomplish its goals. The other is through regulation and, in recent years, that too has increased at an impressive rate. . . .

The FY 2006 Budget requests that Congress allocate $41.4 billion for regulatory activities, up from $39.5 billion in 2005. This reflects a 4.8 percent increase in outlays directed at writing, administering, and enforcing federal regulations. The regulators’ budget is growing at a faster rate than other nondiscretionary spending, which the President’s budget held to only 2.1 percent in 2006. Since 2000, the regulators’ budget has grown an amazing 46 percent, after adjusting for inflation.

Jeez. My expectations that Bush would shrink the government were modest enough, given the realities of American politics. But it’s fair to say that, modest as they were, they’ve still been disappointed.