As John Smith writes at BIZPAC Review,
Aggressive prosecuting [of regulation violations] is the newest form of taxation, a money tree for government.
This is only part of the problem, though (eliding the legitimacy of the regulations). The regulations themselves exist as a form of taxation in the fees they require, and the regulations and their fee structures are enacted by appointed, functionally anonymous bureaucrats, not by our elected representatives.
Regulatory costs extant prior to Obamacare, combined with Obamacare’s regulatory fees, will cost Americans in the aggregate $1.8 trillion per year just to comply. HHS’ regulatory requirements alone cost $184 billion/year. A couple of others picked at random:
Environmental Protection Agency: $353 billion per year Department of Transportation: $64 billion per year Federal Communications Commission: $142 billion per year
Much of these costs, to be sure, are costs of compliance, and not payments to the Federal government. But much of these costs are. Think about the uses you, or private enterprise, have for that money if it were left in your pockets and cash registers.
Look also at the “negotiated” settlements between the SEC and its victim banks. One example: in 2011 the SEC browbeat Citibank into a $285 million settlement (the money would have come to the government, not to reimbursement of any putative victims) over its involvement in mortgage debt securitization and sale (the practice of which has never been found to be criminal or otherwise illegal). The deal the SEC forced Citi to take was so egregious that US District Judge Jed Rakoff, who had to approve the deal for it to take effect, rejected it out of hand, ruling that
the proposed Consent Judgment is neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.
Rakoff founded his ruling in his rejection of a long-standing technique the SEC had been using to…cajole…such settlements: allowing its victims to say they didn’t do the deed, but they’ll pay up anyway. Absent guilt, what’s the basis of the penalty? Rakoff didn’t think there was any. He’s just one judge, taking on one Federal agency, though. And the SEC isn’t done demanding collections without guilt.