Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Obama administration breaks its own record for adding regulations


It's as if a bunch of senior people in the Obama administration read my post yesterday about executive power getting out of hand and said, "He thinks we've been overdoing it before? We'll show him overdoing it!" From Wayne Crews, writing on the Competitive Enterprise Institute's blog :

"President Barack Obama's Federal Register, the daily depository of rules and regulations, added 572 pages today, and stands at 81,640 pages for 2016. 

"This is the all-time record. Ever.

"Obama also held the prior record, 81,405 pages in 2010.

"The 80,000 page mark has been passed in only three previous years (2010, 2011, 2015). ... Note that Obama holds seven of the 10 highest-ever tallies."

The only year of Obama's presidency that didn't crack the top 10 was 2009. I guess it took him a while to get going. But as Crews points out, he has a chance to go out with a bang:

"No one knows what the future holds, but at a pace of well over 1,000 pages weekly, the Federal Register could easily top 90,000 pages this year.

"The simple algebra says that at the current pace we’ll add 11,190 pages over the next 44 days, to end 2016 at around 92,830 pages. 

"This is astonishing and should be of great concern, and intolerable, to policymakers.

"It is remarkable enough that the all-time record has been passed before Thanksgiving."

The data on Crews' post underscores what I said yesterday about this being a long-term trend. Obama's record output this year already surpasses, and could wind up dwarfing, that of the highest previous year: 2008 as George W. Bush left office (79,435 pages). That beat the highest output by Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, which came in 2000 (74,258 pages). Clinton far outstripped the records of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, neither of whose administration ever hit even 58,000 pages, but barely beat the peak hit by Jimmy Carter (73,258 in 1980).

Note that Obama, Bush-43, Clinton and Carter all peaked in their final years in office -- presumably trying to pile on a bunch of new rules right before heading out the door and a president from the other party took over. Those are especially appalling examples of the abuse of executive power in recent decades.

They're also related to the relatively slow economic growth we've experienced over the past decade and a half. Fourteen of the 15 top years for new regulations have come since 2000. More than 1 million pages of federal regulations have been added in the first part of this century alone. That absolutely adds an anchor to entrepreneurs and companies trying to start new businesses or just stay in business.

One campaign promise Donald Trump made was to eliminate two regulations for each new regulation added. If he accomplishes nothing else, that would be a welcome change for the economy.


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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.