Has Obama Implemented A High Number of Major Regulations?

As part of my series analyzing the article suggesting that Obama has changed the economy for the worse, let’s now move on to the second claim: Obama has implemented 600 major regulations (regulations expected to have an impact of $100M or more), many more than W’s 426, and is on track to implement 641 in total by the end of his presidency. These major regulations cost, on average, $1.4B each.

Let’s look into each of these aspects of the claim in turn. My source for most of this analysis is a report by the Congressional Research Service entitled Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Regulations, and Pages in the Federal Register.

1. Obama has implemented 600 major regulations.

This is easy enough to verify from the report:

From 2008 to 2015 there have been 570 major regulations implemented. 570 is less than 600 so this claim is FALSE. (Alternatively, perhaps the author was counting rules enacted so far in 2016, which are not included in this report.)

2. W implemented only 426 regulations (We’ll assume the author meant major regulations.)

From 2001 to 2008 there were 505 major regulations implemented. 505 is greater than 426 so this claim too is FALSE.

Perhaps a more fair comparison would be Obama’s number vs. W’s major regulations just in his first seven years, in which case we would be looking at Obama 570 – W 410.

3. These major regulations cost, on average, $1.4B each.

As of the most recent congressional report, the previous 10 years worth of regulations (667 major rules in total) are expected to provide $261B-$981B in economic benefit at a cost of $68B-$103B so I can’t see how Obama’s 570 rules are costing $1.4B each – even before you factor in expected economic benefit – so I rate this claim FALSE.

4. Obama is on track to implement 641 major regulations in total by the end of his presidency.

Here the author has simply taken Obama’s yearly major regulation average (81) and added it to his seven-year tally (570). 81 is also the median number of major regulations per year under Obama so I think this is a reasonable estimate of his final tally – although it would be more accurate to look at his actual proposed regulations instead. This claim is NOT FALSE but it isn’t strong enough to be TRUE.

CONCLUSION: Looking at the # of major regulations since 1997, it has consistently been 50-80 per year (~half of which are simply transfer rules, implementing Congress’s budgetary requirements) and Obama mostly stayed within that range. However, he is definitely averaging more regulations per year than W (and more than Clinton’s second term) although it isn’t evident to me whether that is because Obama is Mr. Big Government (as he is being painted by the author) or whether that has been his only tool to deal with an obstructionist Congress.

Published by Bryan Guido Hassin

These are the musings of a global cleantech entrepreneur. This blog began as a way to document my experience during the IMD MBA in Switzerland and now is the place where I publish eclectic thoughts on business, politics, fitness, entertainment, travel, wine, sports, and . . . whatever else is top of mind.

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