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Ten Thousand Commandments An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State 2021 Edition

June 30, 2021

Regulations are hidden taxes, and this report shows how the regulatory state grew in 2020.


Regulations impose a huge burden on the economy and limit people's liberty in myriad ways. This report details how, even with the Trump administration attempting to cut regulations, the regulatory state continued to growing in 2020. 

From the study:

  • The cost of federal regulation to each U.S. household exceeds $14,000 annually, on average. For perspective, that equals about 17 percent of the average pre-tax household budget and is the second-biggest budget item after housing.
  • The $1.9 trillion regulatory burden is virtually equivalent to the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March 2021. COVID stimulus cost taxpayers $1.9 trillion, but regulations impose a more hidden cost of ANOTHER $1.9 trillion – ouch!
  • With Federal spending topping $6.5 TRILLION in 2020, including COVID-related spending and bailouts, the $1.9 trillion regulatory burden is equivalent to more than 33 percent of total federal spending. 
  • The number of pages in the Federal Register in 2020 rose to 86,356 pages, which is the second highest count ever. However, Trump’s rollbacks of rules also necessarily added to rather than subtract from the total pages in the Register.
  • The Trump Administration technically exceeded its “one-in, two-out” goals for adoption of significant regulatory action in each fiscal year
Wayne Crews is vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a former Cato Institute scholar.