Major Regulations 153% Higher in First Five Years Under Obama Than Bush

Ali Meyer | April 3, 2014 | 5:11pm EDT
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( -- The number of major federal regulations issued in the first five years of the Obama administration was 153.2%  higher than during the first five years of the Bush administration, according to data from the Heritage Foundation.

“In the first five years of President Obama’s Administration, 157 major federal regulations were issued. By comparison, only 62 major federal regulations were issued during the first five years of the George W. Bush Administration,” according to Heritage’s report,  Red Tape Rising: Five Years of Regulatory Expansion.

A major federal regulation is defined as “any rule that the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget finds has resulted in or is likely to result in: (A) an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more; (B) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or (C) significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of the United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets,” reads the report.

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It further states, “The Obama Administration is aggressively exploiting regulation to achieve its policy agenda, issuing 157 new major rules at a cost to Americans approaching $73 billion annually. In 2013 alone, the Administration imposed 26 new major rules.”

“Although slightly below President Obama’s first-term annual average, it was still twice the annual average of his predecessor George W. Bush,” says the report.  “And much more regulation is on the way with another 125 major rules on the Administration’s to –do list, including dozens linked to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.”

In 2013, rulemaking was dominated by the implementation of the Dodd-Frank law, which accounted for 13 of the 26 major new rules. Other rules in 2013 came from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which included four rules to restrict access to mortgage credit.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about his proposal to raise the national minimum wage, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., . (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“Of the 2013 rules for which costs were quantified, the most expensive was an Obamacare-related mandate jointly issued by the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services. At a cost of $1 billion annually, the regulation requires individual and group insurers, as well as group health plans, to provide “parity” in benefits between mental health or substance abuse services and medical/surgical benefits,” says the study.

Derrick Morgan, Heritage’s vice president of Domestic and Economic Policy, said,  “In 1935, the U.S. code was 2,275 pages, the entire work product of the federal government since 1789. Just Title 42 Public Education Welfare had just 18 pages in 1935. It had ballooned to 3,022 pages in 1970 and it doubled again over the next 30 years.”

“Now, these are at least statutes, but it’s really hard to keep track of what Washington is doing on regulation and on executive actions,” said Morgan.  “The Federal Register last year had 78,000 pages -- that’s an average of more than 200 per day. I can say with confidence, and dismay, that the Obama Administration is likely the most regulation happy in history.”

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