by Jim Tozzi
Every year the federal government decides three major economic matters 1) the amount of money that the government will spend 2) the amount of money it will raise in taxes and 3) the amount of money that it will require the private sector and states, municipalities and tribes to spend on regulatory compliance costs. The first two issues are decided, however imperfectly, through formal processes that are subject to financial limitations. Regulatory burdens, by contrast, are imposed by legislators and regulators on an ad hoc basis without any financial ceiling.
Two alternatives available for addressing the ever growing size of the regulatory state are (1) to continue the current process of adding procedural constraints on regulators or (2) to place a ceiling on the total cost regulators could impose on the public—the implementation of a regulatory budget. If in fact the regulatory state has become ossified then the proponents of this argument should support the implementation of a regulatory budget because it could reduce the historical reliance on option (1) above.