California’s compliance costs put at $3.4 billion.
Government regulations, even reasonable ones, are essentially hidden taxes. They are costs imposed by government. Someone pays the cost of implementing them, and for the consequences they spawn.
We often note that it is people who ultimately pay taxes. Not corporations. Certainly not governments. Institutions pass along the costs of meeting these hidden taxes to customers and to people they purportedly serve.
A recent study by the American Action Forum, a Washington, D.C., center-right group seeking “smaller, smarter government,” identified $27 billion to date in new regulatory costs for states stemming from the misleadingly named Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. That’s in addition to $20 billion in lifetime regulatory costs imposed on private entities, the organization says.
California, as so often is the case when it comes to costly government, “has the highest burden with $3.4 billion in compliance costs,” which computes to the equivalent of 2,917 jobs lost to comply with the “red-tape impact” of new regulations.
“The paperwork burden hours are an important cost associated with the regulations that typically get avoided in discussions about” the new health law, the American Action Forum says. The organization examined the 10 most expensive of Obamacare’s 85 new “rulemakings.”
As costly as the new regulations are, the estimate should be considered, conservatively, a floor, not a ceiling, because the analysis “did not consider any fiscal impacts of the law,” or tax implications, which will be substantial.
Politicians insulate themselves by handing off the drafting and enforcement of Draconian regulations to unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats whose decisions not only can be costly, but often infringe on freedom. For example, as Richard E. Ralston of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine wrote in the Register last week, decisions by Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board to disallow payment for treatments will leave patients with no alternatives.
“Congress and President Barack Obama are determined to have unelected boards and agencies dictate the medical care we are permitted to receive,” Mr. Ralston wrote.
It threatens to get much worse. “The Obama administration has been quietly postponing several multibillion-dollar regulations until after the November election,” Sen. Ron Portman, R-Ohio, wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal. Those regulations combined with “130 unfinished mandates under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law could significantly increase the regulatory drag on our economy in 2013.”