Obama Administration

Obama: "High Water Mark In Terms of Regulation"—Economic Growth Stifled



Over at the regulation blog at The Hill, reporters Ben Goad and Julian Hattem, have a feature assessing the Obama Administration's rush to regulate, well, just about everything. As the two correctly (and depressingly) report:

President Obama has overseen a dramatic expansion of the regulatory state that will outlast his time in the White House.

The reach of the executive branch has advanced steadily on his watch, further solidifying the power of bureaucrats who churn out regulations that touch nearly every aspect of American life and business.

Experts debate whether federal rulemaking has accelerated under Obama, but few dispute that Washington — for better or worse — is reaching deeper than ever before into the workings of society.

"It would be difficult for anyone to pretend that this isn't a high water mark in terms of regulation," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office who now heads the American Action Forum.

The reporters note that Code of Federal Regulations, the compendium of all the federal rules and regulations, has grown from 71,224 pages in 1975 to 174,545 pages last year. Why have regulations more than doubled?

"I think that's a function of the fact that there are more threats to the public health and safety emerging on a regular basis, being identified on a regular basis," said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen.

Maybe so, but regulations are not all benefit; they have some costs too. How much might regulations cost? Eariler I reported research that concluded that the growth of federal regulations had so slowed economic growth since 1949 that American families are about 75 poorer than they would otherwise have been:

The growth of federal regulations over the past six decades has cut U.S. economic growth by an average of 2 percentage points per year, according to a new study in the Journal of Economic Growth. As a result, the average American household receives about $277,000 less annually than it would have gotten in the absence of six decades of accumulated regulations—a median household income of $330,000 instead of the $53,000 we get now.

The Hill concludes:

Supporters of aggressive federal rulemaking have high hopes that Obama will act boldly in the remainder of his term.

I have little doubt that the president will fulfill their "high hopes."