Daniel J. Mitchell
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Obama imposed a big tax hike last year.

But I’m not talking about the fiscal cliff and the President’s class-warfare trophy of higher tax rates on those evil rich people. That happened this year.

Instead, I’m referring to the increase in the regulatory burden.

Here are some excerpts from a report in The Hill.

The Obama administration issued $236 billion worth of new regulations last year… The analysis from the American Action Forum, led by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, found that the administration added $216 billion in rules and more than $20 billion in regulatory proposals in 2012. Complying with those rules will require an additional 87 million hours of paperwork, the report said. The group put the total price tag from regulations during Obama’s first term at more than $518 billion. …The Environmental Protection Agency racked up the most in regulatory costs last year, according to the report, issuing $172 billion worth of rules. Regulations from the healthcare reform law tacked an additional $20.1 billion in costs onto the economy.

This isn’t pocket change. Indeed, $236 billion is almost four times as much money – measured annually – as Obama’s tax hike. And the vast majority of that burden will be borne by ordinary citizens, not just the so-called rich.

But the article includes a very important caveat.

Though the study lists the costs of regulations, it does not calculate any benefits that might have resulted from them.

That’s an important point, which is why it would be nice if the government engaged in some honest cost-benefit analysis. Some regulations impose modest costs and generate meaningful benefits. Mandating that cars include seat belts would be a good example.

Cartoon regulatory octopus

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Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute.