Barack Obama loves to regulate.
Last year was a record-setting year for the Federal Register, according to research by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The federal government’s rules, proposed rules and notices amounted to 81,611 pages on December 30. 2015. That was even higher than Obama’s total for 2014 – 77,687 pages. It also beat the all-time high of 81,405 pages in 2010. (Let me think. Who was president in 2010? Ah yes, Barack Hussein Obama!)
Obama added 3,378 final rules and regulations for 2015. Some of the major final rules included the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and its Waters of the Unites States rule, as well as the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality order. Congress only passed 115 laws in 2015. That means that unelected bureuacrats passed 29 times more rules than Congress passed laws.
The Department of Commerce reported recently that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of only 0.5% during the first quarter of 2016. The Commerce Department, however, does not track the economic impact of regulations. Lucky for us the Mercatus Center does.
In a 22-industry study released in April by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a group of researchers found that federal regulations created an economic drag on the U.S. economy amounting to an average annual reduction in GDP growth of 0.8%. That was more than the economy grew in the first quarter of this year!
What is unique about this study is that that it evaluates the cumulative costs of regulation over a long time period and examines the effect of federal regulations by considering a counterfactual experiment: What would have happened if federal regulations had been “frozen” at the levels that prevailed in 1980? If you were alive in 1980, no one thought we had “too few regulations.”
The Mercatus research team calculated that the 0.8% annual drag on real GDP growth since 1980 can be extrapolated into a 25% reduction in the size of the U.S. economy, or an economy that was $4 trillion smaller (nearly $13,000 per American) than it would have been in the absence of regulatory growth.
“The regulatory state has grown under this administration seemingly without regard to the costs, practicality, or even legality, of rules pushed through by federal agencies,” Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue complained in an email. “The president’s hurry-up approach of executive orders and rushed rulemakings is no way to govern a representative democracy.”
Nearly 4,000 regulations are squirming their way through the federal bureaucracy in the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency — many costing industry more than $100 million — in a mad dash by the White House to push through government actions affecting everything from furnaces to gun sales to Guantánamo.
Let’s face it. This president has had a devastating effect on our economy. I would like you to think about the thousands of regulations and ask yourself. “Do I feel any safer today than 8 years ago?” “Is my drinking water cleaner?” “Is flying or driving or going to the DMV a lot easier than it was 8 years ago.” If you are like me, the answer is no. However, if you ask Americans what is the one thing they would like to see improved IT’S THE ECONOMY.