REIN In Burdensome Government Regulations!

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union, I urge you to support theRegulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. Introduced asH.R. 10 by Rep. Davis (R-KY) and as S. 299 by Sen. Paul (R-KY), this bill wouldincrease legislative control and accountability over federal regulatory policyby requiring Congress to affirmatively approve any rule that may result in anannual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.

Over the pastseveral decades the scope and cost of federal regulations have growndramatically. In the 1950s federal agencies published an aggregate average ofjust under 11,000 pages in the FederalRegister each year. During 2001-2009, that number swelled to an average of73,000 pages per year, and in 2010 nearly reached an astounding 82,000 pages.The explosion of federal regulations has enormous consequences for individualsand businesses. According to a study conducted on behalf of the Small BusinessAdministration (SBA), economists found that the annual costs of federalregulations in the United States had increased to more than $1.75 trillion in2008 – a figure that exceeded all corporate pretax profits ($1.46 trillion)that year. The SBA’s Office of Advocacy added, “Had every U.S. household paidan equal share of the federal regulatory burden, each would have owed $15,586in 2008.” These statistics become all the more troubling when viewed throughthe prism of persistently high unemployment and a sputtering economic recovery.

By requiringexecutive agencies to submit major rulemaking proposals to Congress for a vote,the REINS Act would place a much-needed braking mechanism on a federalregulatory state that is clearly accelerating out of control. As economic,environmental, health, and other issues have grown in complexity, Congress hasoften delegated greater amounts of regulatory authority to federalagencies.  Although this has served animportant purpose, the high level of discretion granted to agencies to carryout regulatory initiatives has often upset the careful balance between narrowtechnical expertise and broad political accountability. The REINS Act would beginthe process of ensuring that regulatory agencies hew more closely to Congress’intent. Furthermore, by requiring an up-or-down vote, the REINS Act pushesimportant rulemakings out of the shadows of government agencies. Finally, H.R.10 and S. 299 would encourage Members of Congress to reflect more carefully ontheir own legislative responsibilities. After all, the 7.6 billion-hour annualpaperwork drain generated by the U.S. Treasury is not just a product of IRSwhims. It is largely a result of congressional tinkering with tax laws.

Thetremendous weight of our growing regulatory state is a hidden burden ontaxpayers and a drag on our economic recovery. H.R. 10 and S. 299 could lightenthis load. Any roll call votes relatedto the REINS Act will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating ofCongress.


Brandon Greife
FederalGovernment Affairs Manager