Administration's efforts to reduce red tape results in $16-billion increase in costs

The American Action Forum has released a scathing report taking the Obama administration to task for its paperwork reduction efforts.

While the president directed the agencies to repeal, modify, or remove rules that contributed unnecessarily to the red tape burden of businesses, government bureaucrats responded by expanding some regs while failing to remove or modify other burdensome rules.

Washington Free Beacon:

“President Obama signed executive orders (13,563 and 13,610) as part of an effort to ‘eliminate red tape.’ Federal agencies were told to ‘modify, streamline expand, or repeal’ existing regulations,” according to the reportreleased by AAF, a center-right nonprofit led by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office.

The American Action Forum has found the reviews consist mostly of recycled regulations by federal agencies that have actually increased regulatory costs.

“The recent ‘retrospective reports’ from the administration reveal that executive agencies have added more than $16 billion in regulatory costs, up from $14.7 billion in the previous update, and 6.5 million paperwork hours,” the report said.

The agency reviews are a result of President Barack Obama’s initiative for a “government-wide review of rules on the books,” which the White House claims to have led to $28 billion in net five-year savings since 2011.

However, the American Action Forum has found retrospective reviews often add additional costs to the economy. A review in 2014 added $23 billion in costs and 8.9 million paperwork burden hours.

“Too often for this administration, regulations are regularly expanded and rarely repealed or modified,” the organization said.

The most recent review listed 409 rules, up from last year, with agencies averaging 20 regulations apiece. The rules increased net costs by over $16.4 billion, with only two agencies reducing costs. One silver lining of the report was the Department of Transportation, which eliminated $847 million in costs and more than 21 million hours of paperwork.

Regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services were far and away the most costly, including Obamacare regulations and a proposed rule entitled the “Protection of Human Subjects” that would cost $13.3 million while saving only $2.7 million.

“Once again, HHS is the runaway leader by imposing $16 billion in net costs and more than 25 million paperwork burden hours,” the report said. “The agency is, amazingly, responsible for 101 percent of the net cost increase, due to cost-cutting measures from other agencies.”

Government culture demands that bureaucrats justify their existence by writing and enforcing regulations.  Of course they're not going to jeopardize their jobs by making life easier for those they regulate. 

Instead, government managers should be rewarded for cutting or modifying regulations to reduce the crushing paperwork burden on American business.

The paperwork burden on business is an astronomical $1.9 trillion.  Under Obama, we've seen six straight years of escalating red tape.  In 2014, the Wall Street Journal noted that one particular job classification was rising faster than any other: rregulatory compliance officer.

The growth of government proceeds unabated, taking on a life of its own.  Is there any way to slow it down?  Not as long as bureaucrats are rewarded for adding red tape and not subtracting it.

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