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Lankford Report: Waste and Over-Regulation Costing Taxpayers

by Nan Swift / /

Freshman Senator James Lankford (R-OK) scored a touchdown for taxpayers with the release of his “Federal Fumbles” report detailing “100 ways the government dropped the ball.” The report tackles wasteful spending and costly federal regulations, both of which increase the size and burden of government, eroding our prosperity.  As the Lankford report notes:

… last year, the President signed 224 bills into law but published 3,554 final rules. This means that for every law passed by Congress, the federal government created 16 new rules. These 3,554 regulations impose significant costs on the American economy. The National Association of Manufacturers calculated the total cost of federal regulations in 2012 to be a staggering $2.028 trillion (11 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product). If our $2 trillion federal regulatory cost were a country, it would be the ninth-largest in the world.

The federal government collected $1.234 trillion in individual income taxes in 2013 but cost individuals and businesses more than $2 trillion in federal regulations. In 2014 the federal government published 80 “major” final regulations that were “economically significant,” or regulations that “will cost more than $100 million a year.” And remember, the costs of those regulations are passed on to you, the consumer.

The highlight reel includes:

  • Nearly $43 million to fund a natural gas station in Afghanistan, which should have cost closer to $300,000. More worrisome, the Department of Defense (DOD) can’t explain what went how the money was spent or what went wrong.
  • $48,500 to study the history of tobacco use in Russia.
  • A new menu labeling rule that could cost grocery stores $1 billion in the first year alone!
  • Intrusive federal licensing requirements for therapy llamas.
  • $48 million in medical and military supplies for Yemen, some of which expired or corroded, that sat in storage for 5 years over a shipping dispute
  • $36 million for an Afghanistan command center left unused by DOD.
  • $30 billion in regulatory compliance costs – on top of lost jobs and reduced growth – to comply with the 30-hour full-time worker definition in Obamacare.

The list goes on and on. Taxpayers will recognize many programs, such as the Essential Air Service ($263 million), Market Access Programs ($200 million), and Amtrak, have been flagged for penalties before and are all long overdue for repeal or reform by Congress.

For lawmakers looking to take action, the report goes beyond simply listing these fouls against taxpayers, laying out potential solutions. Let’s hope this report is an annual initiative that grows shorter with Congressional action.