Auditor: Financial overhaul law cost $1B per year

The financial overhaul law that President Barack Obama and Democrats enacted last year will cost nearly $1 billion to implement this year, according to Congress' chief auditor.

The financial overhaul law that President Barack Obama and Democrats enacted last year will cost nearly $1 billion to implement this year, according to Congress' chief auditor.

But little of that is coming directly from taxpayers.

Government Accountability Office figures, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, show that it will cost 11 agencies an estimated $974 million to hire employees and for other costs carrying out the new statute.

The GAO also estimated that 2,626 full-time federal employees will handle the new law, a combination of new and reassigned workers. The figures did not say how many would be newly hired.

The law was enacted last summer in the wake of the recession and financial crisis of the past few years. It established a new agency designed to help consumers who have mortgages, credit cards and other financial instruments. It set up new regulatory bodies and gave new powers to existing agencies to oversee the economy, and imposed new restrictions on banks, credit-rating agencies and other financial companies.

The GAO figures will be used by lawmakers at a Wednesday hearing of the House Financial Services Committee's oversight subcommittee that is examining the costs of the law. Republicans, who solidly opposed the legislation, have said it goes too far and will stifle companies, while Democrats have defended it as a needed curb to help ward off future economic meltdowns.

The near $1 billion increase compares with combined spending by the 11 agencies of nearly $12 billion this year. That means the money needed to carry out the new law will account for about 8 percent of those agencies' budgets.

The auditors' figures showed that only three of the 11 agencies examined get funds from taxpayer dollars that are directly approved by Congress: the Treasury Department, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. The new law's price tag for those three agencies comes to about $83 million, according to the GAO figures.

The other agencies' budgets come from assessments levied on the companies they regulate, or from the Federal Reserve. The central bank's revenues come chiefly from interest on government securities and fees from banks.

The agency spending the most money on the law will be the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which the auditors estimated will need $329 million. It said the Federal Trade Commission won't need any new resources.

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