Incredible: Obama administration adds 97,000 pages of regulations in 2016
The Obama administration added more than 3,800 new regulations in 2016, 18 for every law passed by Congress. The new regs added 97,110 pages to the Federal Register, the official government record of regulations.
All of these regulations have the force of law and have added tens of thousands of hours of paperwork burden for American businesses.
The 2016 total was the highest annual number of regulations under Obama. Former President Bush issued more in the wake of 9/11.
The proof that it was an overwhelming year for rules and regulations is in the Federal Register, which ended the year Friday by printing a record-setting 97,110 pages, according to the analysis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The annual "Unconstitutional Index" from Clyde Wayne Crews, CEI's vice president for policy, said that it was much higher under Obama than under former President George W. Bush.
"The multiple did tend to be higher during Obama administration. Bush's eight years averaged 20, while Obama's almost-eight have averaged 29," said his report, first provided to Secrets.
His index is meant to show that it is the federal bureaucracy, not Congress, that levies the most rules. "There's no pattern to any of this, since the numerators and denominators can vary widely; there had been 114 laws in 2015, and a multiple of 39. The multiple can be higher with fewer laws, or with more regulations, holding the other constant. The point is that agencies do the bulk of lawmaking, no matter the party in power," he wrote.
President-elect Trump has promised to slash federal regulations, even pledging to cut two current rules for every one he imposes. Congressional leaders have also promised to slash rules and regulations that have escalated under Obama.
The bureaucracy has made itself the final arbiter in interpreting laws passed by Congress. Many times, they reinterpret congressional intent and write regulations to fit the administration's agenda. But Congress shares some of the blame by writing vague, sometimes contradictory legislation, hoping the bureaucrats can clean it up. Oftentimes, they make it worse.
Trump's plan to cut regulations is ambitious, but I don't know if he can realistically achieve it. Congress can help a lot in undoing some of the damage created by President Obama, but as far as overturning burdensome regulations, the agencies will fiercely resist. Cabinet members must bulldog the process to make sure the bureaucracy stays on track.
The regulatory blitz by the administration gives the lie to the president's claim he wants business to create jobs. As the paperwork burden increases, fewer and fewer new employees are hired. It's a safe bet that the American economy won't fully recover until the most onerous regulations are scrapped.