U.S. Regulatory Costs Equivalent to the World’s #10 Economy

Barb Wire

Many of us have long known that federal mandates and regulations are stifling the productivity and prosperity of the American economy. But a new report reveals that the impact is absolutely staggering.

From Investors Business Daily:

After years of rapid growth during the Obama administration, the cost of federal regulations is now bigger than the entire economies of all but nine countries in the world.

That’s according to the latest annual report on the regulatory state issued by the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, titled “Ten Thousand Commandments.”

Compiling reports of compliance costs from various government agencies and outside sources, author Clyde Wayne Crews found that the “regulation tax” imposed on the economy now tops $1.86 trillion.

By comparison, Canada’s entire GDP is $1.82 trillion. India’s is $1.84 trillion.

The problem, Crews notes, is that the combined cost of this “tax” never shows up anywhere in the federal budget — or any other official report — even though it is now bigger than individual and corporate income taxes combined.

Amazing! Absolutely stunning! The garbage the American free market (or “used-to-be-free market”, more like it) must deal with just in order to do what it exists to do costs more than the gross national product of the entire world minus nine countries!!!

I believe it was economist Larry Burkett who said in “Whatever Happened to the American Dream” that (and I”m paraphrasing) only a prosperous nation can afford to strangle itself in asinine encumbrances.

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Can you imagine how many jobs–and how much general prosperity–an additional $1.86 trillion floating around in the U.S. economy could bring? How many new companies could be started? How many companies could be expanded and more workers hired?  How many workers could be promoted or given a salary increase? It’s clear that an additional $1.86 trillion floating around in the U.S. economy, being spent by some and being received by some, would go a long way toward lighting a fire under this stagnant economy.

And where, precisely, in the U.S. Constitution does the authority for this $1.86 trillion in regulation come?  I can’t seem to find it in the enumerated powers listed in Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Is it found in the constitutional authority “To borrow money on the credit of the United States”?

Is it found in the constitutional authority “To coin Money”?

Is it found in the constitutional authority “To establish Post Offices and Post Roads”?

Is it found in the constitutional authority “To provide and maintain a Navy”?

Just not finding it here.

And before you Leftists get all stoked up about the Commerce Clause, remember that the U.S. Constitution only allows the federal government “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” It does not provide blanket authority to regulate commerce, period.

Thomas Jefferson understood this as he noted during a 1791 discussion on a National Bank:

To make a thing which may be bought and sold, is not to prescribe regulations for buying and selling. Besides, if this was an exercise of the power of regulating commerce, it would be void, as extending as much to the internal commerce of every State, as to its external. For the power given to Congress by the Constitution does not extend to the internal regulation of the commerce of a State, (that is to say of the commerce between citizen and citizen,) which remain exclusively with its own legislature; but to its external commerce only, that is to say, its commerce with another State, or with foreign nations, or with the Indian tribes.

The commerce authority given to the federal government dealt only with our nation trading with other sovereign powers, and regulating interstate (i.e. trade between states) commerce, for the federal government to serve as referee in trade disputes between the states.

Or as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story in his Commentaries on the Constitution said:

The power to regulate manufactures is no more confided to congress, than the power to interfere with the systems of education, the poor laws, or the road laws of the states. It is notorious, that, in the convention, an attempt was made to introduce into the constitution a power to encourage manufactures; but it was withheld. Instead of granting the power to congress, permission was given to the states to impose duties, with the consent of that body, to encourage their own manufactures; and thus, in the true spirit of justice, imposing the burthen on those, who were to be benefited.

Or as President Madison-appointed federal judge St. George Tucker noted in his American edition of Blackstone’s commentaries: “The constitution of the United States does not authorise congress to regulate, or in any manner to interfere with, the domestic commerce of any state.”

Contrary to the statist mindset, the federal government does not have unlimited power to do whatever it wishes, so long as it is not specifically restrained. Rather, as the Tenth Amendment makes clear, the federal government is ONLY empowered to do what we the people and the states specifically tell it that it can do.

After all, as James Madison said in Federalist No. 45,

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.

This is in keeping with the Tenth Amendment which says

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Or as Madison said on February 7, 1792 on the Cod Fishery Bill in congress regarding the limits of federal power:

…I, sir, have always conceived — I believe those who proposed the Constitution conceived — it is still more fully known, and more material to observe, that those who ratified the Constitution conceived — that this is not an indefinite government, deriving its powers from the general terms prefixed to the specified powers — but a limited government, tied down to the specified powers, which explain and define the general terms…

…it was always considered clear and certain that the old Congress was limited to the enumerated powers, and that the enumeration limited and explained the general terms…

…If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post roads. In short, every thing, from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.

The language held in various discussions of this house is a proof that the doctrine in question was never entertained by this body. Arguments, wherever the subject would permit, have constantly been drawn from the peculiar nature of this government, as limited to certain enumerated powers, instead of extending, like other governments, to all cases not particularly excepted…

…were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America…

Or as James Jackson of the First Congress said: “We must confine ourselves to the powers described in the Constitution, and the moment we pass it, we take an arbitrary stride towards a despotic Government.”

Or as Thomas Jefferson said: “Our tenet ever was…that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money.”

And for you Leftists who like to justify your love of government based on unconstitutional court decisions such as asinine rulings like Wickard v. Filburn (where growing wheat for your own personal use was considered “interstate commerce”), then you would also have to consider Dred Scott a just decision. After all, as Leftists tell us (when it suits them), if a court says it, it has to be right.  Do you really want to go there?  Uh huh.

It just doesn’t get much clearer than our nation’s founders made it: our federal government is one of specified powers which are listed in a limited-government constitution. Clearly, they understood that as the size and reach of government increases, so does the threat to liberty and prosperity. The U.S. Constitution was deliberately and specifically crafted to restrain the federal government, in the interest of protecting freedom.

So why are the American people allowing their elected representatives to usurp the freedoms that belong to the people, and allowing these representatives to break our nation’s highest law (the U.S. Constitution)? And in the process, why are the American people allowing a rogue federal government to choke our prosperity?

Isn’t it time we the people once again took back our government from the “multitude of offices” and the “swarms of officers” who “harass” and “eat out our substance”?

After all, we have much more on our side to help us do so without bloodshed and risk than did our forefathers, so we are without excuse.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Bob Ellis has been the owner of conservative media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year veteran of the United States Air Force, a political commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for 20 years, including a founding Tea Party leader and organizer starting in 2009. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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