Bush Regulatory Spending Breaks Records

Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:26am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Annual report shows spending continues to spiral higher

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After nearly eight years in
office, President Bush is on track to be one of the biggest regulatory budget
spending presidents in history, according to a new study from the Mercatus
Center at George Mason University and the Weidenbaum Center at Washington
University in St. Louis. 

Regulatory Agency Spending Reaches New Height:  An Analysis of the U.S. Budget
for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009 shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom,
President Bush is not alone among Republican presidents. The report also
describes how eight of the ten largest increases in regulatory spending have
occurred under the leadership of Republican presidents.  All but one of
Richard Nixon's annual budgets make the top ten increases in the last 50
years, and Gerald Ford's 1976 budget also makes the list. In addition, Nixon's
first term holds the record for the biggest increase ever at almost 82
percent. Ronald Reagan was the only president to reduce total regulation
spending, bringing expenditures down by one percent during his first term.

President Bush topped the list with a 24.3 percent increase in 2003 according
to the annual report. His 2002 regulatory budget also made the top five,
growing 16.4 percent. By comparison, the average growth rate over the last 60
years has been only six percent. 

"Bush has been a big spender across the board," said report co-author and
Mercatus Center Senior Fellow Veronique de Rugy. Overall, government spending
has increased a dramatic 65 percent between 2001 and 2009, from $1.3 trillion
to $3.1 trillion. When it comes to the budget for regulatory agencies, the
trend is no different. After a decline in regulation during the 1980s and
1990s, the last eight years have seen an almost 68 percent jump in spending. 

According to Melinda Warren, report co-author and Director of the Weidenbaum
Center Forum, the 2009 regulatory budget is estimated to be $17.3 billion, or
6.4 percent, more than it was in 2000, now totaling $51.1 billion. The 2009
outlays are likely to be much higher than the budget estimates. Take the 2008
budget, for instance. To date, the spending on regulatory activities for 2008
has already significantly outpaced the figure requested by the President in
February of 2007 for the 2008 budget. The 2008 budget was estimated to be only
1.7 larger than 2007, yet expenditures have already jumped to more than 8
percent over the previous year.

Staffing at regulatory agencies has grown, as well, with 2009 boasting 8,359
more employees than 2008, a 3.3 percent increase. This is 88,389 more
full-time regulatory employees than 2000, a 50 percent increase.  

This year's Budget Overview attempts to curtail wasteful spending, proposing
to reduce or eliminate more than 150 ineffective programs and to hold
discretionary spending at less than one percent. However, examples from recent
years make achieving these goals seem unlikely, the report suggests. 

Tracking expenditures over time allows analysts to monitor the direct cost of
regulating the economy and taxpayers. The study points out, however, that
regulations also impose indirect costs on taxpayers. Whether it's the
additional costs businesses face or the alternatives individuals forgo, we are
paying more for regulations than what is budgeted.  

The report is available online at the Mercatus Center (www.mercatus.org) and
Weidenbaum Center (http://wc.wustl.edu) Web sites.

The Mercatus Center at George MasonUniversity is a research, education, and
outreach organization that works with scholars, policy experts, and government
officials to connect academic learning and real world practice.  The mission
of Mercatus is to promote sound interdisciplinary research and application in
the humane sciences that integrates theory and practice to produce solutions
that sustainably advance a free, prosperous, and civil society. 

The Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at
Washington University in St. Louis supports scholarly research, public affairs
programs, and other activities in the fields of economics, government, and
public policy, serving as a bridge between scholars and policy makers.

SOURCE  Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Catherine Behan, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Cbehan1@gmu.edu
or +1-703-993-4930
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