According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in their Annual Snapshot of The Federal Regulatory State, The Ten Thousand Commandments, the annual cost of compliance for that we must pay to stay within the ‘ten thousand commandments’ is over $1.8 Trillion! Explained another way, for every dollar in revenue that the U.S. government took in during fiscal year 2012, consumers and businesses paid another 73 cents in compliance costs. Those of us who own businesses see the costs of compliance directly (tax preparation, ACA, HIPPA, EPA regulations, etc.) and costs are necessarily passed through to the consumers. Those consumers also see direct compliance costs through items like the cost of tax preparation.
When I have to spend so much time, money and energy making sure I’m in compliance with laws and regulations…why does our Federal Government get a pass whenever they feel that a law or regulation is an annoyance. Living with the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare was an annoyance for Congressional employees so the government recently passed a new law exempting Congress and it’s staffers from the laws that the rest of us have to live with. In that case, at least Congress changed the law…but there are a number of other recent cases where our own government just ignores the laws it finds annoying. One such law that seems to be annoying our executive branch is the spending cap passed by Congress:
The Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service FMS, which publishes both the federal government’s official Daily Treasury Statement and its official Monthly Treasury Statement, is reporting that in July the federal government ran a deficit of $98 billion but that the federal government’s debt remained exactly $16,699,396,000,000 for the entire month. The FMS said that the deficit went up $98 billion $97,594,000,000 in the Monthly Treasury Statement for July, which it released on Monday. At the same time, the FMS said the debt stayed at exactly $16,699,396,000,000 in its Daily Treasury Statements, which are published every business day. The Daily Treasury Statements show the daily value of the federal government debt that is subject to a legal limit set by Congress. At the static $16,699,396,000,000 level that the Treasury reported for every day of July, the debt was just $25 million below the legal limit of $16,699,421,000,000 that was set in a law passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. If Treasury’s daily statements were to declare that the government had borrowed an additional net $98 billion to cover the $98 billion deficit the Treasury declared in its monthly statement for July, the Treasury would be conceding that the government had already surpassed the legal limit on the debt–and has been violating the law by continuing to borrowing additional money. Instead, even as the Treasury was running up the $98-billion deficit it reported in the July Monthly Treasury Statement, every one of the 22 Daily Treasury Statements published for July said the Treasury had closed out the previous business day with exactly $16,699,396,000,000 in debt. The Daily Treasury Statement for Aug. 12, released Tuesday afternoon, says the debt remained stuck at exactly $16,699,396,000,000 during the first 12 days of this month, too.
…Since Lew sent that letter–announcing that he would use “extraordinary measures”–the debt has remained stuck at exactly $16,699,396,000,000 for 87 straight days.
So, we’re still printing/borrowing money and are spending more than we take in but the debt according to the Treasury has stayed as a nice round $16,699,396,000,000 for nearly three months…is the Treasury Department facilitating the breaking of a Federal law and failing to comply by exceeding the debt limit or is it just REALLY bad at math?