Here’s What Deregulation Looks Like in the Obama Administration: $2.5 Billion in Rules Wiped From the Books, $236 Billion Added

Over the last four years, President Obama has occasionally tried to cast himself as a deregulator, or at least as someone interested in slimming down and streamlining federal regulations. In 2011, for example, he orderd an administration-wide regulatory review intended to rid the books of "outmoded regulations." Goals included "reducing costs and simplifying and harmonizing rules" through regulatory harmonization, as well as achieving regulatory goals in a way that’s “more effective or less burdensome.” In 2012, Cass Sunstein, Obama’s former Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator touted another executive order intended to “eliminate unjustified regulatory costs and to reduce burdens” through international regulatory coordination.

Here’s what that looks like in practice: Last year, Sunstein’s office wiped $2.5 billion in regulations from agency books. And the administration added $236 billion in new regulations.

A new report from the American Action Forum, a conservative policy shop led by former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, tallies the cost of last year’s new federal regulations, and finds that despite early talk of a deregulatory push, regulators had a banner year: The cost of last year’s new regulations came in substantially higher than any of the past dozen years. In terms of costs, the Environmental Protection Agency led the charge with $172 billion in new regulations. In terms of paperwork, ObamaCare took the gold, with Dodd-Frank financial regulation close behind. The report says that the health law resulted in the publication of paperwork requirements that will chew up about 44 million hours. The report estimates that Dodd-Frank will result a little more than 32 million hours of new paperwork.

As The Washington Post notes in a story on the report, there are clear winners and losers here. Big businesses, which can more easily afford the compliance costs associated with these rules, have a relatively easier time. But their smaller competitors often end up struggling:

Regulations appear to drag more on the bottom line of smaller firms than of larger ones, the study concluded after comparing compliance costs to the firms’ total stock market capitalization. As the report notes, “regulatory costs consumed 6.7 percent of Honeywell’s market cap ($50 billion), compared to just 1.6 percent for General Electric ($221 billion), even though GE reported higher regulatory spending. The same was true for energy, where ExxonMobil had the lowest share of costs/market cap, after reporting the highest regulatory burdens, $2.7 billion.”

That disparity can give big firms an advantage in the marketplace, says Sam Batkins, the Forum’s director of regulatory policy. “Sometimes a big company might want a big regulatory overhaul because they know they can absorb those new costs better than their competitors can.”

Remember this the next time Obama touts his commitment to a less burdensome, less complicated, less costly government: Despite promises to simplify the books, the Obama administration hasn’t gotten rid of burdens. It’s created them.

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  • Whiterun Guard||

    Last year, Sunstein’s office wiped $2.5 billion in regulations from agency books

    See?! And you right wing thugs said they would just add more regulations.

  • np||

    “Sometimes a big company might want a big regulatory overhaul because they know they can absorb those new costs better than their competitors can.”

    That's why we need even more regulations, enough to drown the big guys!

    /leftard

  • Ken Shultz||

    I suppose it doesn't really need to be said that in addition to the regulations in question being a pain in the ass, they also won't do what they were supposed to do.

    Obama-Care will not lower the cost of medical care.

    Dodd-Frank will not prevent the next downturn in the business cycle or the next downturn in the credit cycle.

    Well, I suppose it doesn't really need to be said around here, but I'm gonna say it anyway.

  • Tim||

    The next one? I'm still waiting for the 2008 downturn to end...

  • Almanian.||

    Stop talking down the economy!!111!

  • Tim||

    Don't tell him about the Twinkies...

  • Randian||

    I'm still waiting for the 2008 downturn to end

    I really cannot believe the number of people who think that we're out of it. We very clearly aren't.

  • Nowsane||

    You are so correct! These regulations do nothing at all for the economy, only to guarantee who wins in a business downturn (Dodd-Frank).

  • sarcasmic||

    The report says that the health law resulted in the publication of paperwork requirements that will chew up about 44 million hours. The report estimates that Dodd-Frank will result a little more than 32 million hours of new paperwork.

    Job creation! Economic growth!

  • NoVAHockey||

    44 million hours at $400 an hour ...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    an administration-wide regulatory review intended to rid the books of "outmoded regulations."

    So they finally got around to getting rid of the rule about how many stops the milk wagon can make before the horse gets watered?

  • Tim||

    We used to have a lot more bayonets and horses...

  • Almanian.||

    And buggywhips. Don't forget the buggywhips.

  • ||

    TEAM BLUE: king of the crony capitalists, while hating on capitalism, crony capitalism, and business in general. I guess only Nixon could go to Cronytown.

  • Doctor Whom||

    It's completely different when Team Blue does it, just as it is on every other issue on which Obama is effectively GWB's third and fourth terms.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Regulations appear to drag more on the bottom line of smaller firms than of larger ones

    I realize I pretty much live in a bubble, but is there anyone, anywhere, who doesn't already know this?

  • AZ||

    The Democrat base?

  • Rob||

    TLPB was referring to those of us commenting on Hit & Run.

    Discussions of how established businesses use regulation to burden upstart competition are fairly frequent in the comments.

  • ||

    Beat me to it. In other news, sky still blue, socialism still sucks.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    44 million hours at $400 an hour ...

    What are you, the Walmart of regulatory compliance?

  • NoVAHockey||

    you're right, I need to raise my rates.

  • Almanian.||

    need to raise my rates

    I know some unions who may be able to assist you with that endeavour...

  • RPR2||

    by the time obama leaves office, the regulatory burden will exceed the tax burden. it's already close.

  • Tim||

    That's why he is raising taxes, duh.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I realize I pretty much live in a bubble, but is there anyone, anywhere, who doesn't already know this?

    Yes. "Progressives".

    Fortunately for the cartelists, a solution to this vexing problem lay at hand. Monopoly could be put over in the name of opposition to monopoly! In that way, using the rhetoric beloved by Americans, the form of the political economy could be maintained, while the content could be totally reversed. Monopoly had always been defined, in the popular parlance and among economists, as “grants of exclusive privilege” by the government. It was now simply redefined as “big business” or business competitive practices, such as price-cutting, so that regulatory commissions, from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the Federal Trade Commission to state insurance commissions, were lobbied for and staffed by big-business men from the regulated industry, all done in the name of curbing “big business monopoly” on the free market. In that way, the regulatory commissions could subsidize, restrict, and cartelize in the name of “opposing monopoly,” as well as promoting the general welfare and national security. Once again, it was railroad monopoly that paved the way.

    - Rothbard

  • OldMexican||

    It should be important to remember that the Sherman Act was originally passed and used to prosecute those that would restrict commerce, like trade unions, guilds and such. It wasn't until Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson that the intent of the law was changed to go after businesses for the sole crime of being "too prosperous."

  • OldMexican||

    Despite promises to simplify the books, the Obama administration hasn't gotten rid of burdens. It's created them.


    You're just saying that because you want children to die of black lung and sea otters to be born with five legs!

    (Yes, that is as far as the left will go when having a "rational" conversation.)

    Speaking of "rational" conversations, listen to the leftist fucktard on the (ironically) right:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECxDvwObwZk

  • Cliché Bandit||

    The rescuing princesses form is the purple one. And you need to stand in that line.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    TLPB was referring to those of us commenting on Hit & Run.

    Actually, I was referring to the real world.

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