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Why the Latest Round of Fed Regulations Should Have Consumers Worried


WASHINGTON -- The cost of federal regulations continue to rise as President Barack Obama rushes to implement them before leaving office.

The latest rules target businesses across the spectrum, and experts believe they will hurt the economy by driving up costs for consumers.

During his eight years in office, Obama has pushed out an unprecedented number of regulations -- some 20,000 new restrictions that by some estimates could end up costing taxpayers about $100 billion a year.

"All these new rules and restrictions are coming in on virtually every sector of the economy," said James Gattuso, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank. 

Regulations begin in agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, where government officials develop rules for specific corporations to follow.

"They develop very detailed rules, very often going to lengths Congress never would have intended. Then there's a process for comment and notice, and then they release the rule," Gattuso explained.

When complete, a regulation is published in the Federal Register and goes into effect.

Obama's regulations target a wide range of industries, and even though the costs are directly imposed on businesses, consumers ultimately pay when companies change their products and raise their prices to comply with new restrictions.

Gattuso says the EPA's clean power plan is the most expensive of Obama's recent wave of rules. It's a plan designed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

He believes it will cause more problems than it fixes.

"It will drive coal production plants, electricity plants, power plants out of business, and it will have almost no effect on global warming. So it will fail in its goals and impose costs on Americans," Gattuso predicted.

And the financial burden isn't the only thing Americans should worry about.

"A lot of regulations have no monetary cost that can be measured but are equally or more problematic. I'm thinking of the Obamacare regulations that limit our religious liberty. I'm thinking of FCC regulations that limit free speech," Gattuso warned.

One solution would be to bring Congress into the process.

"I think that a reform of this system that makes sense would be to make Congress, or require Congress, to approve these regulations before they take effect. That way, Congress is accountable for those regulations and Congress has improved oversight over what's happening out there before the consumers have to pay," Gattuso suggested.

Although Obama's number of regulations stands out, Gattuso says the uptick started under former President George W. Bush.

He says that until a commitment is made to stop this rising tide, it will continue no matter who is president. 

Experts say Obama's final months in the White House could be his busiest yet, with more than 2,000 proposed or final rules in the works before he leaves office.

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