Cost of Obama’s 2012 Regulations: $236 Billion

Despite Obama’s promise to cut unnecessary regulations, his administration issued $236.7 billion in new regulations in 2012.

According to a report by the American Action Forum, headed by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the direct costs of the regulations force America’s businesses to waste 87 million man-hours to fill out regulatory paperwork.

Adding Obama’s 2012 regulatory costs to that of the rest of his first term adds up to a total of $518 billion in new costs forced onto an already anemic economic recovery.

This onslaught of new regulations comes even after Obama was celebrated for claiming he was going to be the regulation-cutting president.

Indeed, in 2011, Obama released a plan claiming he would cut regulations and reduce the burden on the business sector. Not long after, Obama operative Cass Sunstein praised Obama claiming that his plan would work “to eliminate unjustified regulatory costs and to reduce burdens.” Sunstein went on to say that Obama had done more to cut regulations than any president in recent history.

Sunstein was given one Pinocchio for his misleading claims and for good reason as Obama’s small cuts have been dwarfed by the increases.

American Action Forum says that the costs of regulations have “added tremendous costs to the economy” and finds that the year 2012 tops every year in the past twelve in “terms of final rule cost.”

The Journal News Removes It's New York Gun Owner Database
Reductio Ad Absurdum
  • Commander_Chico

    This kind of statistic is meaningless, because there is no countervailing estimate of the cost of not regulating in any particular case.

    For example, you could estimate an opportunity cost of the time filling out driver’s license and car registration forms, going to the Registry, etc. I am sure it would be in the billions of dollars.

    Does that mean that drivers should not be licensed, vehicles should not be registered? Probably not, because the cost of unregulated driving and vehicle operation in damages of various kinds would exceed the cost of being licensed and registered.

    Once again, Chico has to school the fool in Econ 101.

    • The_Weege_99

      Sure, that could be the case. It isn’t, but it could be. Why don’t you be a good Obama apologist and post a link to the EPA website that has these listed.

      • Commander_Chico

        I haven’t heard that argument since sixth grade – “No, it isn’t!” Clue: it’s not a winning argument among adults.

        But I’ll expand on my argument further. Groups like the “American Action Forum” are formed and paid-for by people who want to avoid the direct costs of their actions and shift them to society in general.

        In other words, they want to evade personal responsibility for their actions.

        For example, a factory might face significant costs in installing pollution controls. This might indeed be a heavy cost to the factory owners.

        On the other hand, if the pollution controls were not installed, the population at large might have to pay much larger distributed costs in clean-ups, loss of economic resources like water and land, lost productivity due to illness, health care and funerals. Any one person’s (natural or corporate) share of that cost might be very small or random – for example an increase in the incidence of say, cancer of the testicles might only affect 5 out of 100,000. Corporations, of course, don’t get cancer, don’t drink water, breathe air, or use parks, but they can get humans to act as their agents in evading their personal responsibility, like the way Warner is whoring for them now.

        • Brucehenry

          Awesomely well said.

        • The article says the cost of the new regulations to the economy in O’s first term was $518B.
          Chico posits (paraphrase) but these new regulations might have saved the lives of many people that evil corporations would have surely let die if not for the new government regulations. Stunningly (but I joke) Chico doesn’t cite any of the regulations which might actually save a single life.
          I like this game. I’ll posit that these new regulations actually worked to punish businesses who the O dislikes and reward those businesses who the O likes.
          One good supposition deserves another.

          • jim_m

            Except that there is probably more evidence in support of your assertions than there is for Chico’s.

          • Brucehenry

            “Probably”? Lol.

            Why? Because you want it to be so?

          • jim_m

            Because we have seen evidence that obama desires to steer government contracts toward his donors. Because we have seen his administration dismiss criminal charges and fail to prosecute political allies. Because we have seen obama use the government to punish companies like Gibson Guitar.

            So yeah, I think we have a reasonable expectation that obama uses the government to enrich his friends and punish his enemies and Chico has offered nothing but an ideological argument that there may be a cost benefit to billions of dollars of new regulations.

          • When you’re tacitly setting the cost of a single life at an essentially infinite point, it becomes very easy to say that no cost is too great to alleviate (insert problem here).

            A few hundred billion here, a few hundred billion there – it doesn’t matter because it might save a few lives. Or even one life.

            This is sometimes argued re gun control. If it saves even one life (and that phrase, to me, seems to admit that the base of the argument is rather iffy in itself) then it’s justifiable to spend billions to control something that might not be controllable in the first place the way you’re going about it. (Ignoring the possible role of SSRIs in mass shootings in favor of immediately passing legislation that wouldn’t have affected the incidents in the first place comes to mind…)

            I’m sure not looking at dumping everything and going back to the ’60s re pollution controls and the like – but there’s a point of diminishing returns where it takes massively more and more funding spent on regulation to achieve even a tiny incremental change. I’d argue that we’re at that point in a lot of cases where people are clamoring for even more money for their pet causes.

            And that’s fine – if you’ve got unlimited amounts of money to throw around. Which… we don’t.

        • retired.military

          Funny Chico since your post above this one is baslically one big long “No it wouldnt”

    • herddog505

      Here’s the problem: the people making the regulations haven’t done the cost/benefit analysis, either:

      Uncle Sugar – “This is a Good Thing(TM), and you must do it!”

      Citizen – “But it will cost me $XXX. That’s a lot of money. Why should I pay to do it?”

      Uncle Sugar – “Didn’t I tell you that it’s a Good Thing(TM)? That it will be a Benefit to Society(TM)? You want to do Good Things(TM), don’t you? And if you don’t… well, you don’t want to pay fines or have us kick in your door, wreck your business and send you to jail, do you?”

      So, while you’re busily schooling us in economics, can you tell us how much it will cost NOT to have these regulations? What is the estimated dollar value of the alleged benefit that we’ll reap from them? And who provides that value? Would it be the very government agencies who want the regulations in the first place? Where did they get the bright idea in the first place?

      Let’s look at your remarks on drivers licenses. Are you claiming that regularly standing in line at the DMV in order to pay a fee to surly, inefficient clerks in exchange for a plastic card with my photograph and personal information on it (ZOMG! POLICE STATE!) makes me or anybody else a good, safe driver? That it makes us keep our tires properly inflated, our brakes, turn signals and headlights in good working order, and stops us getting behind the wheel after a sleepless night of drinking and drug use? If not, then what’s the benefit from making people get a license?

      I will offer a different example. A few years ago, there was a kerfluffle in Louisiana about their state law requiring florists (!) to get licensed.* Those opposed to requiring the state to officially license people for the delicate, critical task of arranging flowers claimed that it was not much more than a state-sanctioned protectionist scheme. Considering that the licensing board consists of licensed florists who have an economic interest in keeping down competition, I agree.

      What say you? Is this a Good Thing(TM), the sort of regulation that us economic illiterati should support, or is this a case of the government abusing its power to the detriment of the people?

      Let me hasten to add that I believe that regulation is not necessarily a bad thing. There is always tension between the rights of each person to life, liberty and property, and government, through the law, plays an important role in whose right is preeminent in various cases. For example, suppose that my neighbor claims the right to use his property as slaughterhouse; I claim my right to not have my property damaged by the sounds, smells, and run-off. Which of us has the better right? In such a case, a regulation – “You may only build a slaughterhouse in such-and-such area so that it interferes with the fewest other people’s properties” – is not necessarily a bad thing.

      The problems, of course, are that regulations carry a cost to SOMEBODY and that they may be used as a weapon by the powerful against the weak. Therefore, I suggest that regulations should never be blithely accepted, but instead should be vigorously questioned whenever they are proposed.**



      (**) Allow me to say that I’ve recently been reading The Law by Frederic Bastiat. While his theories are a bit “pat” (as theories often are), his central point about how the law is frequently used to plunder people is superbly made.

      • Commander_Chico

        I agree with you on the florists, that is an example of a guild trying to suppress competition (it is also a state, not an Obama federal regulation), but are you arguing that the requirement to maintain a driver’s license and the penalties for driving without a license do not deter drivers from reckless driving?

        For example, convicted drunk drivers have their license suspended. If there was no requirement to be licensed, they could keep driving.

        • In a lot of cases they still do. Revocation of a licence doesn’t mean they forget how to drive, or can’t get their hands on a vehicle somehow.

          • Commander_Chico

            Of course, but it is a deterrent to them driving. The laws against rape don’t stop guys from jumping out of the bushes on a woman, either. The law is always just a deterrent. There is always a good chance they will get caught driving without a license.

          • Especially if they’re drunk. The repeat offenders just never seem to make the connection.

            So the obvious thing to do from a regulatory standpoint is to install alcohol sensors in each vehicle that every driver must use before every trip. With an annual calibration check needed, so you’ll need to set up a network of calibration stations, like emission check stations now. And start up an entirely new system to manage the data from those, which will require a lot of money for facilities, personnel and equipment.

            After all, if even one life is saved, that’s enough justification for any expense or aggravation – isn’t it?

          • herddog505

            Look, let’s not give them any ideas. Next thing you know, they’ll be on about regulating assault cans of beer.

          • herddog505

            What’s the deterent? “Stop driving without a license, or we’ll say ‘Stop!’ again?”

          • retired.military


            THat is the UN you are thinking about., Wrong thread.

          • jim_m

            That’s also every state in the union when they pull over an illegal alien.

          • retired.military


            Use your above argument with the gun control laws on your lib friends and watch their heads explode.

            “you you mean to tell me that outlawing guns wont stop gun crimes./ Heretic!! Devil spawn”

        • herddog505

          Or we could toss them in the klink or impose some other punishment that would actual prevent them driving. Further, as JLawson point out, suspending their licenses does not stop them driving.

          What I suggest is that we take an ineffective (if not outright silly) approach to the law: we punish people who have done nothing wrong by imposing various regulations, fees, bans, etc. while at the same time failing to deter (or punish) actual crime through ineffective, underapplied or capricious punishments.

    • jim_m

      Dumb ass. There is no additional cost of not regulating something. the cost profile remains the same without those regulations.

      The regulations we are talking about are not like getting a driver’s license. These regs are about adding additional restrictions on operations or on reporting. It isn’t like saying we are going to register drivers it is like saying that we are going to add a regulations for he condition of your car. In Massachusetts that adds minimally $30.00 for every car. Sure it puts money in the pockets of the service station and more importantly, the government, but it takes it away from the driver.

      Regulations take money away from the person doing the activity and gives it to others the government sees fit to give it to. It is a non market mechanism for redistribution of income. Occasionally, it is a useful tool for society, but not for the most part.

      • Brucehenry

        So if I have a factory that pumps carcinogenic pollutants into the air, regulations forbidding me from doing so have a cost, but the decreased cost to thousands of people who no longer must pay for cancer-fighting medicine doesn’t count?

        • jim_m

          How many of obama’s new regulatiuns are actually of that nature? None.

          This is not an argument against regulations in general, it is an argument against the overweening regulations that they are pushing on the economy NOW.

          The lie is in your argument that all regs are somehow necessary to save the environment, or save the children. It’s bullshit. It is to increase government intrusion and nothing else.

          • Brucehenry

            The article is about the combined cost of all recent Federal regulations, is it not? Are you arguing that NONE of these regulations have a positive cost/benefit ratio? To society at large, I mean?

            To say that NONE of “Obama’s new regulations” are “actually of that nature,” or that ALL regulations are to “increase government intrusion and nothing else,” is ideology, not argument.

          • jim_m

            Are you arguing that NONE of these regulations have a positive cost/benefit ratio?

            I have not heard that there is ANY such analysis. Unlike the individual, who is innocent until proven guilty, the government needs to demonstrate it first. Any government regulation needs to demonstrate what the real benefit is. There is no cost benefit data for this raft of regulation.

          • Brucehenry

            Or rather, you are not aware of any. I’m sure that the Army of Useless Bureaucrats you so often complain about includes a battalion of cost/benefit analysts. I’m pretty sure that most government regulations go through that process before they’re promulgated.

          • jim_m

            If there is such an analysis why are you and chico not posting link after link to show us where these analyses were done?

            I can wait…..

          • Brucehenry

            Because Chico’s comment was about theory. And about the credibility of anti-regulation articles like this, which don’t even mention the cost of NOT regulating this or that.

            I’m not spending all day in detailed research, I’m going to the gym as soon as I can tear myself away from this keyboard. But just look at asbestos, for instance. Sure there was a cost to asbestos producers, but there was a benefit to the public at large, which was the reason the government acted.

            And the benefit was not just about dollars, btw. There is an inherent benefit in NOT getting cancer, isn’t there, beyond the cost of treatment?

          • jim_m

            His theory is bullshit. Back it up with facts. Yes, there is a point to regulations but can you name off the top of your head the crying need that any of these regs is meeting? Where is the public groundswell for these regs if they are so important that they are going to save lives?

            Calling it theory is just saying “I have no proof but my ideology is always right and that is all the proof I need.”

          • Brucehenry

            I haven’t looked at these specific regulations, but I will relate an anecdote.

            I spent my childhood in Jacksonville, FL. The whole city stunk like shit, especially on the hottest days, from the numerous paper mills all around the city. The smog was so thick you couldn’t safely drive across the St John’s River some mornings. Jacksonville was a backwater and a sorry place to live. My family left.

            Then came the environmental movement and the Clean Air Act. The paper industry absorbed a huge cost. Some mills went out of business. Others met the cost and adapted their facilities to comply

            . BUT: Jacksonville no longer stinks and the city thrives. I may retire there.

          • jim_m

            Yes, we did some good things back in the 1970’s with environmental regs. We also made some mistakes. We are making mistakes now as we extend the clean air act to add billions of unnecessary cost for imperceptible “improvements
            in the environment.

          • Brucehenry

            Granted that some regulation is excessive. Please grant that there may still be, in the future, some need for a new regulation or two.

          • jim_m

            I do. Just not any of these. There has been no such argument made in favor of any need other than “regulations are good”. I suppose that you could cite Pelosi’s laughable claim that all regulations actually increase employment (a .claim based on the false notion that companies will just absorb the added cost of completing paperwork by hiring additional employees).

            You cited the Clean Air Act above. There was a case where people understood hat the air was really foul in some parts of the country. People may have argued the extent of the regs, but most understood the need. No similar regs are proposed here. These are almost exclusively, if not exclusively, just meaningless tightening of rules and red tape.

          • Brucehenry

            LOL, So you’ve read ALL of these new regs that add up to half a trillion in costs? And you’ve reviewed them so carefully that you’re positive that “not any” of these have a positive cost/benefit ratio?

          • jim_m

            I have heard the absence of any rational argument for any specific regulation. I don’t need to review them all to notice this absence.

          • jim_m

            I have heard the absence of any rational argument for any specific regulation. I don’t need to review them all to notice this absence.

          • Brucehenry

            Yes, having “heard the absence” of something is proof of….hunh?

          • jim_m

            There is an absence of any argument that these regs are needed. Simple as that Bruce.

          • Commander_Chico

            There are several analyses of regulatory burdens and regulatory quality.

            First there is the World Bank’s “Doing Business” index which measures the ease and cost of doing business in 184 countries.

            Where do you think the USA ranks overall? From the crap out of the likes of Warner and the shady “American Action Forum” funded by undisclosed donors, you’d think it’s low.

            But the USA ranks #4 out of 184 countries. Not too shabby.

            Where does the USA score in regulatory quality, according to the World Bank? 96th percentile.

            Then there is the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Index, which measures regulatory burden and regulatory quality, along with a number of infrastructure issues.

            Where is the USA out of 144 countries? Number 7.


            Are there individual regulations which could be eased? Sure, but overall the regulatory burden in the USA is low. When the USA drops out of the top ten, let me know. Until then, this is all bullshit peddled by the stooges of corporate “persons” seeking to evade personal responsibility for their actions, and not-too-bright parrots like Warner.

          • jim_m

            Yes, I know people who attend the WEF in Davos every year. It is a far left group that just loves the kind of crony capitalism that obama promotes.

            Meanwhile, we have the highest corporate tax rates in the world. We are sliding precipitously in measures of economic freedom. Our standard of living is in rapid descent.

            Piling regs on a failing economy will not revive it, but it will create all sorts of opportunity for govnernment corruption. But then that really is the point, isn’t it? That is what you are really in favor of.

          • “That is what you are really in favor of.”

            I’ll play devil’s advocate here and say I don’t think he is. Nobody wants corruption at any level in government… but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen, and the more levels of government put into place, the greater the opportunity for some functionary somewhere to go “You know, I could probably get your application through faster if there was something in it for me.”

            India is REALLY having a problem with that, btw. It’s endemic at all levels.

          • jim_m

            Chico defends this admin at every turn. I doubt that he would not support every corrupt activity they engage in.

          • Commander_Chico

            I’ve been to Davos, and let me assure you there are very few “far leftists” there. Try the World Social Forum for that.

            I’ve figured it out – I guess for you “the left” is anyone who has a brain or basic economic knowledge.

          • retired.military


            I dont think that anyone would argue that none of the regulations would have zero value. However there have been several folks (and please I dont have time nor inclination to look them up) that have argued that Obama’s regs have added zero cost to doing business.

          • They have to.

            When you start seeing real world costs for results that range from “well, maybe there’s a benefit” to “Well, there’s really not, but we think there might be” to “There’s really none, but it keeps people employed” it becomes a lot harder to justify the expense.

            Better to pretend there’s no cost.

        • herddog505

          BrucehenrySo if I have a factory that pumps carcinogenic pollutants into the air…

          Here are the problems:

          1. “Carcinogen” is a nice, scary term that doesn’t take into account exposure limits* or our increasing ability to detect chemicals in amounts that (we think) are well below harmless levels:

          Lefty – “ZOMG! That factory is pumping carcinogens into the air! We gotta do something!”

          Self – “What specific chemicals are present, and at what concentrations?”

          Lefty – “Who cares? Carcinogen! Don’t you understand that????”

          Self – “[sigh] Is there enough to present an actual health risk?”

          Lefty – “CARCINOGEN!!!!”

          2. We’re also very good at determining that almost ANYTHING is a “carcinogen” because some lab animals develop cancer after being exposed to (relatively) more of the material than most people will be exposed to in several lifetimes. In my life, I can remember many cancer scares. For example, saccarine caused cancer, then it didn’t.

          Does this mean that we shouldn’t have some air quality regulations? No. But I do say that there isn’t a lot of common sense in them. I suggest that the average person is exposed to far more hazard from the crap in the air from his daily commute (thousands of cars burning thousands of gallons of gasoline and diesel) than from the ZOMG! CARCINOGENS! from a factory or powerplant sited miles away.

          A family story:

          My grandfather worked at Oak Ridge during the war where he was exposed to powdered beryllium. He died of cancer at the age of 84. He also smoked for much of his life and worked variously in textile mills and as a coal miner, and he had diabetes and heart disease unrelated to his war work. Now, can we say with any certainty what exactly caused his death? Can we even say that his life was shortened? In other words, what regulation (if any) might have prolonged his life? How could anybody make that decision with anything better than a guess?


          (*) Yes, I know that the government puts various numbers on such chemicals. MiniTru doesn’t: it’s “CARCINOGEN!” without any other data.

          I also refer you to a wiki article about benzene in soft drinks:

          Benzene in soft drinks has to be seen in the context of other environmental exposure. Taking the worst example found to date of a soft drink containing 87.9 ppb benzene, someone drinking a 350 ml (12 oz) can would ingest 31 μg (micrograms) of benzene, almost equivalent to the benzene inhaled by a motorist refilling a fuel tank for three minutes. While there are alternatives to using sodium benzoate as a preservative, the casual consumption of such a drink is unlikely to pose a significant health hazard to a particular individual (see, for example, the EPA IRIS document on benzene). However, spread out over millions of people consuming soft drinks each day, there might be a small number of cancers caused by this exposure. [emphasis mine – hd505]

          Should we stop drinking – or even allowing to be sold – soft drinks and other beverages containing sodium benzoate, the supposed source of the benzene? After all, they contain a carcinogen.

          • jim_m

            Very true. What most people do not understand about carcinogens is that carcinogenicity is a factor of dose intensity. It is the amount of exposure, dose, over a defined period of time, intensity, that defines risk.

            For example, high doses of radiation are lethal. If you were exposed to 1200 rads in one go you’d die. But I can give you 1200 rads in 200 rad doses twice a day for 3 days and it becomes a cancer therapy.

            The left doesn’t understand this basic scientific concept. Probably because it is science and they do not understand science even though they invoke the name of science like a deity periodically.

          • Brucehenry

            The government DID impose rules regulating the content of gasoline, and limiting emissions from cars, did it not? Has it saved or lengthened any lives, or improved the quality of life for many of our citizens? I say yes, it has.

            A family story: My father also served at Oak Ridge during the war. He died from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1958, at the age of 37. His brother, my uncle, who was a doctor, always suspected there was a link between his wartime service and his death. Was there? We’ll never know, most likely.

          • jim_m

            If you read Richard Rhodes’ Making of the atomic bomb you can see that the answer to that question is yes, almost certainly it contributed because they really knew so little about what they were doing.

            But while the regs have had some benefit they have gone way too far. There are over 50 different gasoline formulations in the US (18 formulations x 3 grades = 54 formulations). In Illinois they use 13 different formulations and they are mandated by the quality of the air in a given county (as if air always remained within the county). This contributes to the expense of gas as it creates smaller markets than necessary and increases the relative expense of production.

            Regulation can make sense. Regulation n the US ceased to make much sense for the most part well over a decade ago.

          • herddog505

            RE: lead in gasoline

            We don’t know that it did or didn’t improve anybody’s quality of life, health, or lifespan. Do we really want to impose regulations (i.e. costs) on people because we THINK that they MIGHT do some unknown number of people some sort of good?

            RE: your father

            I’m sorry that he died at such a young age. Is it possible that he was exposed to something at Oak Ridge that shortened his life? Yes. Is it also possible that he was genetically predisposed to the disease or was exposed to something else in his life that caused his lymphoma? Yes. As you say, we’ll never know what actually caused his death.

            Such is the case with many deaths due to cancer or heart disease. Why do some people die early from heart attacks while others live their entire lives without so much as a hardened artery? Why do some families have histories of diabetes or certain cancers or heart disease while others don’t? We simply don’t know.

            Again, I don’t say that we need to do away with all health regulations, but I do say that we need to be a bit more skeptical about claims that we MUST have this regulation or that because, at the end of the day, the correlation between regulation and quality of life is pretty damned slight, often hardly more than a (politically motivated) guess.

          • Commander_Chico

            Glad you mentioned lead in gasoline. This recent study in the news provides a good example of the possible cost of environmental pollutants.


            When lead was removed from gasoline everyone knew it was a neurotoxin.

          • herddog505

            Tetraethyl lead (“ethyl”) was used in gasoline starting in the 1920s. By the (ahem) logic of the study, violent crime rates should have started to spike in the middle- to late-1940s. I’m not aware that this happened.

            What we seem to have here is a typical case of confusing correlations with causation: “Lead was phased out in the ’70s, and crime went down in the ’80s and ’90s. SEE! Lead causes crime!”

            What else happened in the ’80s and ’90s? Lessee… Economic boom… Increased use of the death penalty… Three strikes laws… More police officers… Could it be that these things had at least as much (and perhaps more) effect on the violent crime rate than leaded gasoline?

            Let’s hop into the Wayback Machine and take a spin through the ’60s and ’70s when crime was apparently spiking due to that nasty ol’ Ethyl. Vietnam… Watergate… Death penalty moratorium… Racial violence… A generation of youth taught “don’t trust anybody over 30” and steeped in the ’60s counterculture, some of which openly preached violence… Decreased reliance on institutionalizing mental patients that reached a peak when Carter basically emptied the loony bins… Say! Maybe these things have something to do with crime being “bad” in the ’70s, which make the ’80s and ’90s look good in comparison.

            But here’s the really funny thing: the violent crime rate was higher AFTER ethyl started to be phased out: the violent crime rate peaked in 1991, nearly two decades after ethyl started to be phased out in the United States.*



            [T]he TEL phaseout began in 1976 and was completed by 1986. A 1994 study indicated that the concentration of lead in the blood of the U.S. population had dropped 78% from 1976 to 1991.


          • jim_m

            Chico, another leftist confused by the difference between correlation and causality.

          • Re lead in gasoline –

            Apparently tetraethyl lead is some pretty nasty shit.


            I’ve got no problems with regulating it out of the environment. I’ve got a problem with, as Jim pointed out – 54 different blends of gas, all apparently concocted to satisfy local regulations. Is the environment so much different in California than Illinois or Florida?

            Bureaucrats exist to create a structure. Lawyers exist to explain, enforce, and expand upon that structure.

            We likely passed a critical mass on lawyers decades ago. We might not survive the chain reaction caused by too many lawyers…

      • Commander_Chico

        There is no additional cost of not regulating something.

        Only a person who does not understand the issue could write that.

        • jim_m

          How does not changing something cost you more than what you are already spending? You’re an idiot if you think that doing the same thing and changing nothing is going to add costs. If the only thing that changes is added regulations then the regulations add cost. Regs may end up saving some costs elsewhere, but hey almost always save those costs elsewhere in the system and not where they are applied.

          • Commander_Chico

            “Cost” is an economic term of art. Obviously you never took Econ 101, or you would understand what “cost” means in an economic context. I assumed when I wrote my comments above some basic knowledge of economics. My bad.

            “Cost” in this context would include all of the value of all of the activities which could not be pursued because of the activity (for example, no swimming in a polluted lake, or drinking the water) and the actual cash outlays (e,g, for cancer care).

          • jim_m

            I took cost accounting when I was working on my MBA. I know exactly what I am talking about. But since you argue mostly from ideology I suspect that you do not.

          • Commander_Chico

            This “accounts” for your narrow perspective.

            Cost accounting is the definition of cost on the books you are keeping for your business.

            The economic definition of cost is much broader and includes many costs “off the books” of your business.

          • jim_m

            Shows how much you know. Cost accounting is different from financial accounting. Non financial measures such as good will can also be accounted for.

            And you also admit my point that any cost savings are not found in the regulated industry, but are found remotely, if at all. The more remote the savings the more ineffectual and meaningless the savings. The more remote the savings the less related they are to the actual regulations imposed.

            Regs like the clean air act improved air quality locally. The “savings” were experienced in the immediate area. As JLawson points out, the regs being offered now are not of the same nature, but are mostly government reporting BS. There is no benefit to society by additional government intrusion in this way.

          • Commander_Chico

            Funny that nobody has cited any particular federal regulation as being overly burdensome.

          • jim_m

            the 1099 mandate in obamacare was cited very vocally and it was rescinded. Plus it usually isn’t the weight of a particular reg in isolation it is the cumulative effect of multiple regs that is the issue. It’s like an obese person eating candy. It isn’t one M&M that is the problem, it’s the entire 48oz bag.

          • Commander_Chico

            Obviously, since that reg was rescinded, it is not among those allegedly costing the economy $236 billion.

          • jim_m

            Funny that nobody has cited any particular federal regulation as being overly burdensome.

            You asked for ANY. I gave you one. Suck it up big boy.

          • Commander_Chico

            Do you understand the meaning of context? You might as well have brought up the Eighteenth Amendment.

          • jim_m

            And I answered that part in what followed my citation of the 1099 issue. I see like all leftists you have serious reading comprehension issues.

    • Regulation compliance always costs. Time spent filling out and filing forms has to come from somewhere – and the more regulations, the more time spent.

      How much that time costs might well be worth arguing about, because it’s a legitimate expense that the company involved has no choice about paying.

      You can negotiate for lower costs for supplies, facilities and the like, you can try to cut back on energy usage – but if the government says .you’ve got to take the time to fill out forms X, Y, Z, ZZ, Z cubed, A1 through A445 and all attachments thereof, then you’re going to need people dedicated to that… and they can’t be shortcut.

      And the money needed for that could be used for expanding the business, paying your employees more, advertising or whatever.

      Paperwork ain’t free, after all.

      • Commander_Chico

        I agree with your general point, but why you are filling out the forms does matter, as I pointed out in my driver’s license example.

        • jim_m

          You have no concept of the kind of paperwork that comes with government regulation for products or services in a heavily regulated industry. There is a lot of reporting and record keeping that is duplicative and much of it is unrelated to the actual service being done, some is merely to better enable the government to tax that activity and not to actually improve that activity.

        • As a retired AFR admin specialist, forms can be important, or a waste of time.

          If the forms have a purpose, that’s one thing. Payroll, requisitions, performance reports – that’s justifiable.

          If the forms exist merely to justify the existence of some office that, if the forms weren’t around, wouldn’t be in business because it’s not really needed, that’s something else. I think some government agencies have expanded far beyond where they need to be, because the original problems they existed to solve have pretty well been solved. So to justify themselves, they find new purposes, or make their original ones more stringent. (Like the arsenic in drinking water in the Southwest. Drop the levels from 50 parts per billion to 10ppb, and you might save up to 28 lives from bladder cancer. Never mind the cost of implementing that regulation which will be tacked onto water prices for consumers – don’t you want to save people’s lives, you greedy bastard? Never mind it’s only been relatively recently that they could MEASURE a 50 ppb level, much less 10.)

          Each regulation takes its toll. Each regulation has a cost. There might not be much of a cost per each, but they’re cumulative.

          As others pointed out, it’s not the single M&M that’s the problem. It’s the two-pound bag.

  • 914

    And Barry also was promised as a uniter. What a sickening person.

  • ricsands

    I wish someone could list the regulatory compliance cost for the HIPAA secure software systems each and every healthcare entity listed under the PPACA is going to cost. I personally know of one hospital that invested 100 million dollars in the programs and was fronted 80 million by the government to cover the rest of the cost.

  • jim_m

    Here you go Bruce and Chico: A wonderful example of obama’s new regs, where the FDA is pushing a half billion in new expense that serves no greater purpose than increasing the size of government.

    The new rules would cost about half a billion dollars per year. The cost of FSMA will be borne by farmers and food producers of all sizes. The FDA estimates the FSMA will cost America’s small farms about $13,000 each per year. Larger farms—much more capable of bearing the costs—will be out about $30,000 per year. Other food producers are likely to face varying fees.

    The net effect is that the FDA will hire 2000 new employees but only do ~ 2 more inspections per decade of high risk food facilities.

    A half a billion dollars not for food safety, but for bigger government. Just what Bruce and Chico love most.

    Oh, and in case you were wondering, “FDA food safety inspections dropped by 47 percent between 2003 and 2006. During that same period, according to CDC data, rates of infection from bacteria like listeria were flat, and below traditional averages. ” So paying for increased inspections won’t actually make our food safer, but it will line the pockets of useless bureaucrats with our money. But like I said, that really is what you guys want after all.

    Funny, how obama’s policies also favor large rich farms and discriminate against smaller, poorer, family farms. Seems like a trend in his policies.

    • herddog505

      “FDA food safety inspections dropped by 47 percent between 2003 and 2006. During that same period, according to CDC data, rates of infection from bacteria like listeria were flat, and below traditional averages.”

      That’s a pretty damning statistic. It also speaks to my objection about the government not doing (apparently) any cost / benefit analysis. I understand WHY they don’t: writing regulations and hiring regulators are political decisions, usually driven by panic over some bad event. “ZOMG! Several people got food poisoning after eating peanut butter that came from a plant in Podunk, Georgia! WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!”

      Nobody bothers to ask whether the proposed “SOMETHING!” would have prevented the problem, or indeed why the problem happened in the first place. Politicians are not interested in the truth but rather in keeping their phony-baloney jobs, so knee-jerk responses are the rule.

      • jim_m

        Nobody bothers to ask whether the proposed “SOMETHING!” would have prevented the problem, or indeed why the problem happened in the first place.

        Exactly. Unfortunately, useful idiots on the left don’t demand that the government prove that there is a cost/benefit for new regs. They demand that there be proof that there is no cost/benefit to not make those regs. It is the unthinking reflexive belief that all the government does is good and beneficial without ever demanding proof. They don’t think that the government can do any wrong. And won’t believe it until they see an analysis. Heck, they probably still won’t even then,

        • Brucehenry

          It is my understanding that almost all regulations are preceded by a cost/benefit analysis. You guys saying over and over again that no such analyses are performed doesn’t make it true. Sounds like an article of faith to me.

          Is it really your position that government agencies issue new regulations willy-nilly without any written justification beyond emotion and anecdotes? I don’t think so.

          • jim_m

            You would be completely wring with that. Most regs are not preceded by cost benefit analysis. While some are done in consultation with the regulated industry, a cost/benefit analysis is rarely done.

            In the arena of blood screening for infectious disease they are only now starting to look at cost. With the advent of Chagas disease testing they came in retrospectively with an epidemiological analysis that demonstrated hat only first time donors needed to be screened. They never did that before. Some tests have added more than $100 M per cost adjusted life year. In other words we spend $100M per year to save one person one year of life. Is it worth it as a society? Probably not.

          • Brucehenry

            Let’s convene a Death Panel to decide whether that one person should live or die.

          • jim_m

            You and your friends are doing just that.

            My example was on blood screening and risk assessment.

          • herddog505

            Show us the cost / benefit analysis for ObamCare.

            I can certainly show you Rep. Louise Slaughter tearfully relating how one of her constituents had to take the false teeth from her dead sister’s corpse because (sniff) she couldn’t afford health care. Oh, the humanity!* Oh, the anecdotes!

            For that matter, show us the cost / benefit analysis for cleaning up the air in Jacksonville. I’m sure that cleaning up the air was very nice (I make no doubt that I would have been all for it had I been there at the time), but how much money and how many jobs did it cost?



          • jim_m

            They had to pass the bill before they could do the cost analysis don’t you know.

            So much for Bruce’s assurance that all regs had a cost benefit analysis done.

          • herddog505

            Very true. When you have to pass a bill to know what’s in it, it really does say that you can’t possibly do an analysis of its effects.

          • Brucehenry

            Are you claiming that no cost/benefit analyses were done in the two fucking years of the Obamacare debate? Don’t be ridiculous.

            I would have no idea how to find the studies done re: Jacksonville, but I can tell you that, had Jacksonville remained a fetid, stinking hellhole, it would not be the thriving city with a NFL franchise that it is today.

          • herddog505

            Where are they? I heard quite a lot of numbers bandied about, but the funny thing was that they often varied: one day, 30 million Americans didn’t have health care. On another, it was 40 million. ObamaCare would save us 3000% on our insurance premiums.* Etc. I suggest that the cost / benefit analyses for ObamaCare are found where the analyses for the Iraq War** and most other government actions are to be found: in the fantasies of the politicians who support them.

            So, where are the cost / benefit analyses? And by that, I mean actuarial studies, not some horsesh*t cobbled together by Barry and his chums in the DNC or ThinkProgress.

            RE: Jacksonville.

            I’d say that you are correct. On the other hand, Chicago reeked from slaughterhouses a century ago, but – somehow – became the modest-sized village that it is today. The smog in LA a half-century or so ago was so bad that it was a national joke, frequently mocked even in cartoons, yet LA actually got an NFL team. Etc.

            Could it be that cities like Detroit, LA, Chicago, Cleveland, etc. would not have grown as they did if we’d had the types of regulations a century ago that we have now? If not, then doesn’t that sort of indicate that maybe those regulations have a cost? And – perhaps – those costs are too high relative to the (alleged) benefits?



            (**) This raises the issue of whether or not government analyses are to be trusted even if they exist. Quite aside from the fact that the people who do those analyses work for the government and know which side of their bread is buttered, they haven’t exactly got the greatest track record in the world, have they?

          • Brucehenry

            Well, obviously you can not be convinced no matter what. Either the studies weren’t done, or they were done, but by partisans and/or hacks. They weren’t done at all and if they were they can’t be trusted.

            Actuarial studies WERE performed during the ACA debate. Some were commissioned by pro-reform groups and some by anti-reform groups. Is there some non-biased, completely impartial source of actuarial knowledge that you would trust? Not Heritage or Cato, which I wouldn’t?

            Funny you should mention L.A. Its air was rescued by the same Clean Air Act that rescued Jacksonville’s air. If there had not been that Act, L.A. would be in the same position as Beijing.

          • herddog505

            Let’s just say that it will take more to convince me than assertions that the government MUST have done a cost / benefit analysis because… um… well… BECAUSE.

            And how COULD anybody have done good analyses? As jim_m points out, nobody even knew what was in the damned bill until after it was passed. I doubt that anybody knows even now exactly how it will work out as so much is left to boards and commissions that haven’t been formed, much less started making rules. Further, given the number of waivers issued (over a thousand, I believe), the results are naturally skewed as thousands of employees who SHOULD be covered by the law AREN’T, at least temporarily.

            Our basic positions are these:

            ME: Some regulations are necessary, and some good has been done by them in the past. However, before we have more, I want to see that somebody other than that lying son of a b*tch Barry or his hacks in MiniTru have actually determined how necessary these regulations are, based on predicted costs and benefits. Said determination must be more than, “We say so!” which seems to be their stock answer.

            BRUCE: Some regulations are necessary, and some good has been done by them in the past. Obviously, this means that MORE regulations will do MORE good, and we should trust the government to be all-wise, all-knowing, and all-benevolent in this matter, so shut the f*ck up and don’t ask any questions.

          • Brucehenry

            Wow, what a fair-minded way to characterize the two positions. Jim may have hijacked your Disqus identity, there, Herd.

          • herddog505

            Well, I might have (ahem) shaded your position a bit, but I think that the gist of it is true based on what you’ve written. My attitude is one of suspicion: how do we know that we even need all these new regulations? Has anybody sat down and done the cost / benefit analyses and, if so, where are they?

            Your attitude is much the opposite: the onus is on critics like me to prove that we DON’T need the regulations. Further, your various comments seem to indicate that you believe that Uncle Sugar naturally and always does cost / benefits analyses; we just can’t easily lay our (virtual) hands on them.

            Is that a bit more fair?

            It boils down to trust: I don’t really trust the government. Do you?

          • Brucehenry

            A bit.

            My understanding is that government agencies that issue new regs do indeed routinely, in most cases, perform cost/benefit analyses before those regs are implemented. Your position, as I read it, is “No they don’t, and even if they do they can’t be trusted.”

            Well, we live, supposedly, in a democracy in which we elect representatives who oversee these executive agencies. All of these agencies were created by our elected representatives and charged with responsibilities by them. How are ANY new regs to be issued (which, you admit, very rarely are indeed needed) if not by the government that you say can’t be trusted?

            IIRC, the very Clean Air Act that rescued the air of L.A. and Jax was vociferously opposed by free-market critics who decried the cost and the job losses that would ensue by its passage. And costs and job losses DID occur. But were offset, in most people’s opinions, by the benefits of the Act.

            As for the analyses themselves, I’m only claiming that I, myself, cannot easily lay my virtual hands upon them. Or rather, I’m admitting that an argument in a blog’s comment section isn’t enough motivation for me to do the research.

          • herddog505

            I have my doubts about the cost / benefits analyses. As is quite clear, Barry wants to throw quite a lot of new regs on coal-fired power plants, for example. This is being done to “combat global warming” (or whatever it’s being called today): I suggest that one CAN’T do a C/B analysis on that at all as it’s a political goal.

            How many other regulations are like that? I suggest, quite a few.

          • Brucehenry

            I agree, and I’m not suggesting that every regulation be accepted at face value and never contested. Clearly some are not needed and some are counter-productive, so I don’t think businesses should just roll over at every government command.

            However, the suggestions, as you and Jim have asserted, that EVERY recent regulation is worthless and that NO thought went into them beyond the aggrandizement of government are overstatements, is all I’m sayin’, dude.

  • retired.military


    Let me give you my story about govt regulations.
    I was assigned to Rock Island Arsenal in the late 1990s.
    They had quarters for the soldiers on the Arsenal. THese quarters were at least 50 year old single family homes. Each set of quarters was about 1500 sq ft.

    One summer they did lead paint abatement on the quarters. THe cost was $50k+ per set of quarters.
    When I asked about the exboirbant cost when you could build new quarters for probably a little more and those quarters would last another 50 years I was told “wrong color of money”
    The money was funded for lead paint abatement and not new construction.
    As a result the arsenal spent about a million dollars doing lead paint abatement on quarters that were 50 years old. When it could have easily cleared out the old quarters for a lot cheaper and built modern housing slightly more money.
    In addition, the general;s quarters were considered a historical building. THey spent $200k replacing windows because they had to be a certain type of window in line with the historical nature of the building.
    I was stationed at Ft Meade. They did quarters rennovations on the patios on family quarters. WHo knows how much that cost. 2 months after that was done another contract was approved for interior rennovations, part of which was putting in laundry areas. What did they need to do for the laundry areas? That’s right, rip up half the patios that they had just put in.

    Not all govt regulations are entirely good or pass the common sense test.

    • Brucehenry

      And no one, least of all me, is claiming that they are or do.

      What we do see here is people claiming, with no back-up, that NONE of the regulations enacted in 2012 are justified; and claiming, with no back-up, that NO cost/benefit analyses are done on new regulations.

      I don’t believe either of those claims. Do you?

      • jim_m

        So then your argument is that we should have to justify NOT having the regulations. Our position is tat they should have to justify having the regulations. It’s only the difference between freedom and oppression.

        • Brucehenry

          My position, Jim, is that a cost/benefit analysis was performed as part of the process of issuing these new regulations. At least that is my understanding of how the process works. That cost/benefit analysis is your “justification” for the new regs.

          You and Herd keep insisting that NO analyses are done, or if they are done, they’re suspect, or whatever. You insist that NONE of these new regulations have ANY positive benefit to the economy or to the quality of life of US citizens.

          All of these claims are asserted as if they are fact, but they’re just assertions, and I don’t think they’re true. Sorry.

          • jim_m

            y position, Jim, is that a cost/benefit analysis was performed as part of the process of issuing these new regulations.

            citation needed.

            Where is the cost/benefit analysis showing that the half billion of tax payer expense for the new FDA regs are worth it?

          • Brucehenry

            Was the claim that the expense was to the taxpayers? I thought the cost was to the regulated businesses.

            As I said, it is my understanding that a cost/benefit analysis is routine for most new regulations. If I’m wrong I’m wrong. As I said, I thought the Army Of Useless Bureaucrats included a Cost/ Benefit Battalion.

          • jim_m

            Was the claim that the expense was to the taxpayers? I thought the cost was to the regulated businesses.

            Jesus you are ignorant. Businesses are taxpayers you communist stooge. Smaller businesses are also known as family farms. They are disproportionately hit.

          • Brucehenry

            You know what I meant.

          • jim_m

            No I don’t. I know what you wrote was pure ignorance.

          • Brucehenry

            Some businesses pay taxes and some don’t. These regulations apply to both the compliant and the non-compliant, the honorable and the too-clever-by-half.

            They also apply to the profitable, the unprofitable, and the ones whose profits are concealed by accounting maneuvers.

            When you say “taxpayer expense” I assume you mean ALL taxpayers, not just the affected businesses.

          • jim_m

            Regulatory expense is not merely taxation. Some is the BS red tape that it entails. Increased cost of doing business is passed on to customers. Leftist economic modeling never makes that assumption. Much like the fantasy that insurers are going to pay for abortion out of the goodness of their hearts, no company absorbs all the cost of regulations.

            Increased costs that can’t be passed on to customers could put someone out of business. But that’s not a bug of obama’s regulatory mess, it’s a feature.

          • Brucehenry

            Yes, I know, and that is what the argument is about, red tape, not direct taxation. You say that this alleged $236B cost in red tape is entirely unnecessary and without justification. You keep saying it over and over but I still don’t believe it.

          • jim_m

            Well as soon as you post the cost benefit analysis we could have a meaningful discussion. The closest thing to a cost analysis for the half billion farm expense is found in my link. you don’t have anything to back your claims up at all.

            Like I said you demand that people opposed to regulations demonstrate that the regs won’t have benefits that outweigh the costs. You assume that all regs aer beneficial and that the government has proof of that benefit even if no one has ever seen it.

            Charitably I would call it naive. But it’s more like being a useful idiot.

          • Brucehenry

            There are several places in your link where the author relates this “data is straight from the FDA.” What he is citing is the cost/benefit analysis done by the FDA used as justification for the new FSMA.

            One can argue whether the cost outweighs the benefit, but not that no analysis was done.

          • jim_m

            The law was passed and signed in 2011. The cost of implementing that law was not examined until AFTER the law was signed.

            Your point?

            The fact is that many laws are passed and signed without any concern for the costs. Cost analysis is only done later when the laws are implemented.

          • Brucehenry

            Right. The analysis for rules AUTHORIZED by this law was done after the bill was passed, but BEFORE the rule was adopted.

          • jim_m

            So you admit that regulations were mandated by congress without any cost benefit analysis. Thank you.

          • Brucehenry

            That wasn’t the question. The question was whether the regulations, not the laws authorizing agencies to issue them, were made without such analyses.

          • jim_m

            There is little difference. The law that Congress passed is the foundation. The administrative rule is the implementation. Often the implementation is dictated by the law. There is not such a disconnect between the law and the rule that you could not estimate the cost.

          • Brucehenry

            Congress passes such laws as this including language authorizing executive agencies to draft such rules as may be necessary to accomplish the goal of the law. THEN those proposed rules are subject to cost/benefit analyses before they are implemented. See?

          • Hawk_TX

            These executive agencies are only empowered to enforce the law. When they start to make up rules/regulations that are enforced as law they overstep their authority. Congress does not have the authority to delegate its power to make laws.

          • Brucehenry

            Surely you are not so ignorant as to believe that every regulation in effect has been specifically voted on by Congress. Agencies like the EPA, FAA, BATFE, and hundreds of others make rules that have the force of law, and have been doing so for many decades.

          • Hawk_TX

            I am well aware that those agencies do excercise regulatory authority. I was simply pointing out that they do so without constitutional authority. The only regulations that they enforce should have to be voted on by Congress. This would limit the out of control regulatory state, and establish accountability to those who vote for the regulations. To do otherwise is to establish the rule of corrupt bureaucrats and not of law.

          • Brucehenry

            In a sophisticated, complex modern industrial democracy, that would be impossible, as you should also be well aware. Come on.

          • Hawk_TX

            No, it would be enforcing the law. If these agencies exercising arbitrary legislative authority is so vital, I suggest you push for a constitutional amendment. Until then they should be constrained to merely enforcing the law.

          • Brucehenry

            I believe you mean contraception, not abortion.

      • herddog505

        A regulation almost by definition denies a man the right to conduct business as he sees fit and / or directly costs him money.

        If the .gov wishes to curtail my rights or take my money, there’d better be a damned good reason for it. “Hey, we’re from the government and we’re here to help” doesn’t cut the mustard.

        • Brucehenry

          There’s no “almost” to it, it does those things. That doesn’t mean it is unjustified. It might be, but not necessarily.

          • herddog505

            Well, then: if the government is going to deprive a man of his property and right to pursue happiness by determining how he uses it, don’t you think they ought to prove their case for doing so beyond “we think it’s a good idea” or “I’m sure that SOMEBODY actually did an analysis of the costs and benefits”?

          • Brucehenry

            Well, as I have said, it is my understanding that they currently DO, in most cases. You keep insisting that they don’t, or at least not to your satisfaction. This argument is circular. If the analyses are done, they’re not valid, according to you. No regulation could ever be approved if Herddog was in charge. I for one am glad you ain’t. I like clean air, safe water, and wholesome food.

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