Collectively, Americans handed over a couple trillion dollars to the government on Monday (Tax Day).  I wish the burden of big government could stop there.

But, as a new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute points out, Americans will also lose about $1.75 trillion in the “hidden tax” of federal regulation.

Aptly named “Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State,” the report includes among its findings:

• The Federal Register stands at an all-time record-high 81,405 pages.

• In 2010, federal agencies issued 3,573 final rules.

• While agencies issued 3,573 final rules, Congress passed and the president signed into law a comparatively “few” 217 bills. Considerable lawmaking power is delegated to unelected bureaucrats at agencies, an abuse addressed recently in proposals such as the REINS Act.

• Alarmingly, proposed rules in the Federal Register have surged from 2,044 in 2009 to 2,439 in 2010, a jump of 19.3 percent.

• Of the 4,225 rules now in the regulatory pipeline, 224 are “economically significant” meaning they wield at least $100 million in economic impact-this is an increase of 22 percent over 2009’s 184 rules.

• Given 2010’s government spending (outlays) of $3.456 trillion, the regulatory “hidden tax” of $1.75 trillion stands at an unprecedented 50.7 percent of the level of federal spending itself.

The additional $1.75 trillion lost to Americans through federal regulatory schemes is money that could’ve been spent creating jobs and growing our economy. 

A good approach to cutting big government involves a three-pronged strategy: Spend less, tax less, and regulate less.  In the midst of heated debates about spending and taxing – let’s not forget that deregulation is an important step toward freeing American business and the American economy.