New Data: Code of Federal Regulations Expanding at Faster Pace Under Obama

Barb Wire

On the list of differences between Republicans and Democrats is how they approach the pace of change.

Example #1: Ronald Reagan called for the closing of the Department of Education. Over three decades later it still exists, and in no small part thanks to Republican George W. Bush, it’s as big as ever. That’s actually change in the opposite direction.

Example #2: Take over one-sixth of the economy with one bill? You know that’s not Republicans, since they preach incrementalism. Democrats laugh and grab. Obamacare put the country on the path to total government control of the health care industry.

A new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute says that the Obama Administration ‘has added 17,522 pages of regulations in his five years in office; one president growing the regulatory state 11 percent increase in five years.’

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Can you imagine a Republican president decreasing the size of the regulatory state by 11 percent in five years? We can’t either, unfortunately. The reality is that all Republican administrations have allowed change in the wrong direction. While it is easy to think of numerous examples, the CEI report shows just one way how Republicans have made Democrats’ bad behavior possible:

In his five years in Office, President Obama has averaged 3,504 CFR pages annually.

Meanwhile, [George W.] Bush’s final four years averaged 2,584 pages; his total eight-year tenure averaged 2,490 pages annually.

Thanks, George. In 2003 the number of pages evidently decreased by 922 pages. We can only assume it was a housecleaning effort to clear away pages that applied to horse and buggy type items.

The CEI report explains some of the details:

The annual Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the “codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.”

The page count for final general and permanent rules in the 50-title CFR seems less dramatic than that of the oft-cited Federal Register, which now tops 70,000 pages each year (it stood at 79,311 pages at year-end 2013, the fourth-highest level ever). The Federal Register contains lots of material besides final rules.

 A couple more facts from the CEI report:

  • There has been a 146% increase in the number of pages since 1975.
  • The number of CFR volumes stands at 235 (as of 2012; the 2013 count remains unavailable for the time being), compared with 133 in 1975.

If Republicans are ever going to clean up the bipartisan mess their record after holding power will have to be better than “we increased the size of the regulatory state at a slower rate than the Democrats.”

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