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."

NEXT: Pension Crisis Drains Philadelphia Schools of Cash

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  1. Hurting the economy–bug or feature?

    1. Feature as long as the media allows you to blame the Teathugikkkans.

    2. What do they care? It doesn’t affect those cocooned in Washington, and increases their power.

      1. Smart parasites don’t kill their hosts, especially when there aren’t any healthy alternative hosts to feast on.

        1. They’re not smart.

          1. Ah, you’ve identified the fatal flaw in this parasite. Now it is time to develop a vaccine, perhaps even a cure.

            1. I have a box of .40 caliber cures and a delivery device in the drawer of my nightstand at home.

        2. Nothing is more addictive than free money. So once they parasite digs in, it can’t help itself. Even though it knows it dies with the host, it will still kill it. The parasites killed Detroit and are about to kill California. Never under estimate their ability to steal and lie to themselves about it.

          1. It’s sort of a parasitical version of the tragedy of the commons. There is no incentive to steal more carefully, and every incentive to steal as much as they can get their hands on, because if each one doesn’t do it to the max, another one will. It’s a parasitical free for all.

            1. Yes. And there is never enough free money. No one ever has enough where they stop asking for more.

    3. Well, it’s not hurting the regulators’ (and regulatory policy advocates’*) income…

      * to borrow a leaf from barfman’s book: barf

  2. At least our new healthcare system doesn’t seem complicated: http://www.jec.senate.gov/repu…..00c43fb5c8

  3. It would be nice to get a President who realized and acted on the Achilles heel of the regulatory state:

    It belongs to the President. All those regulations are issued by the executive branch. Which means the President has the unilateral authority to simply . . . repeal them.

    1. Yes and no. A lot of statutes require, as in say “so and so shall issue regulations saying this”. He couldn’t repeal all of them. He could repeal a bunch of them. But even that would end up in court as various leftist groups argued that the enabling statute required the regulations to exist.

      1. I think he can still repeal the regs.

        The agencies have to have some form of directive from Congress to write the regs in the first place, but even when the law says “shall issue” rather than “may issue”, there are no consequences or ability to require that regs be issued if the agency never gets around to it or blows a deadline.

        Regs aren’t statutes. They are explicitly delegated to the executive branch. Delegated means that Congress has no say over what the regs say; if Congress doesn’t like regs, Congress has to pass an actual law that is signed by the President to override the regs.

        I would say that repealing (or, if a dodge is needed, “suspending”) regs is squarely within the executive’s power. If Congress didn’t want to delegate to the executive, it shouldn’t have delegated to rulemaking in the statute.

        At most, the enabling statute requires some regs to exist. As a last resort, the regs could be replaced with whatever statutory language they are supposed to implement.

        1. I’m suspending these regulations while the OMB conducts a Paperwork Reduction Act review, while I’m also simultaneously not funding the OMB’s review. Also, EPA, same thing.

          1. My prediction would be the courts overturn the repeal because it doesn’t follow the rule making process (notice, public comment, etc etc). Same with staying that review until funding is secured or just throwing out the entire review.

            The ratchet moves in only one direction.

            1. It would be nice if a president would at least test the issue. Also, I’d also like to see a president test a question I addressed in my National Security Law seminar paper–Can a president veto a declaration of war?

        2. but even when the law says “shall issue” rather than “may issue”, there are no consequences or ability to require that regs be issued if the agency never gets around to it or blows a deadline.

          Yes there is. Some interest group sues and the court orders the agency to publish the regs. Agencies like the EPA or the Fish and Wildlife Service get sued for non action all of the time.

          You have to understand how federal administrative law works.

          1. While the courts may be able to order the agency to publish something, I don’t think they have the authority to order that particular regs be published.

            So, worst case scenario, the regs are republished to adopt the language of the authorizing statute. For the HIPAA security rules, that would mean something like this:


            [Restate definitions in statute].


            The Secretary Covered entities shall adopt security standards that–

            “(A) take into account–

            “(i) the technical capabilities of record systems used to maintain health information;

            “(ii) the costs of security measures;

            “(iii) the need for training persons who have access to health information;

            “(iv) the value of audit trails in computerized record systems; and

            “(v) the needs and capabilities of small health care providers and rural health care providers (as such providers are defined by the Secretary); and

            “(B) ensure that a health care clearinghouse, if it is part of a larger organization, has policies and security procedures which isolate the activities of the health care clearinghouse with respect to processing information in a manner that prevents unauthorized access to such information by such larger organization.

            There you go. Statutory mandate to promulgate regs satisfied. Additional burden of regulations: zero.

  4. http://nationalreview.com/corn…..-obamacare

    If you like your plan you can keep it. Unless you have a plan the government doesn’t like.

  5. Regulate me….harder…..oh yeah…….!! Stick your Federal Register deep inside me……unnhg…….more…….more!

    /T o n y

  6. Honestly, as bad as government spending and taxation are, the regulatory state is what really kills economic growth. Leftists (like ProgressiveLiberal last night) love to point to places like Denmark and credit their taxes and social welfare for their prosperity, ignoring the facts that these places were wealthy and prosperous before those programs, but more to the point, ignoring the fact that other countries have those exact same programs with far less success. The reason for that is that places like Denmark has vastly more economic freedom than those other places, because their regulations, corruption, property rights protection, etc. are all vastly better. Even compared to the US, Denmark outscores us on every part of Heritage’s Economic Freedom Index besides government spending, fiscal freedom (taxation) and labor freedom (though the difference isn’t that big). They score better on Business Freedom, Investment Freedom, Trade Freedom, Financial Freedom, Property Rights, Corruption, etc.

    1. Business can adjust to high tax rates. Regulations, not as much.

      1. And big business can adjust to new regulations much easier than small business.

  7. Since Carter all presidents have been regulation happy:

    Obama’s White House approved 613 federal rules during the first 33 months of his term, 4.7 percent fewer than the 643 cleared by President George W. Bush’s administration in the same time frame, according to an Office of Management and Budget statistical database reviewed by Bloomberg.

    The number of significant federal rules, defined as those costing more than $100 million, has gone up under Obama, with 129 approved so far, compared with 90 for Bush, 115 for President Bill Clinton and 127 for the first President Bush over the same period in their first terms. In part that’s because $100 million in past years was worth more than it is now due to inflation, Livermore said.

    In the last 12 months through the end of September, the cost range of new regulations is estimated to be $8 billion to $9 billion, a decrease from 2010, according to non-partisan Government Accountability Office reports analyzed by Bloomberg. That total put the average annual cost of regulations under Obama at about $7 billion to $11 billion, compared with the $6.9 billion average from 1981 through 2008 in current dollars, according to the OMB data.


    1. There’s a stirring rebuttal:

      Obama is only a little worse than Bush, according to the GAO.

      One wonders, though, what the tally would be if the OCare regs were actually being issued as “required”.

      1. Shreek has to shit on the thread. It is what he does.


  8. I think a government employee salary cap at the median income would do a nice job of aligning their incentives with the citizens.

    1. And the people calculating this median income, they would also be subject to the salary cap? And would thus have a direct and very material interest in fudging the numbers? And anyone that could potentially hold them accountable for cooking the books would also be subject to the same salary cap and consequent incentives, is that right?

  9. “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 douchenozzle at Public Citizen.

    Bullshit. I have a lot of trouble believing that there are really that many more public health risks now than there were in 1975. Certainly not enough to justify over 100,000 pages worth of new regulations.

    1. Far more likely that the working definition of “public health threat” has expanded exponentially since 1975, thanks in no small part to fuckstains like Public Citizen.

    2. First thing that caught my eye. Assertion with no supporting arguments. I’m betting oncogenesis has the right of it.

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

    Hell yes! Bring on the pain. You US Persons have it coming to you. Fargin racist capitalist piggies.

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