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There's nothing much to look forward to with the incoming
administration. But I certainly won't miss the current
administration. It's hard to think about what the Bushies
haven't messed up.
Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus
Center, has penned a devastating critique of the Bush regulatory
record. He is worse than Bill Clinton and Jimmy
Carter! Writes de Rugy: 
Some people still seem to think Republicans take a hands-off
approach to regulation, probably because the party is always
quick to criticize the burdens regulations place on businesses.
But Republican rhetoric doesn't always match Republican policy.
In 2007, according to Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise
Institute, roughly 50 regulatory agencies issued 3,595 final
rules, ranging from boosting fuel economy standards for light
trucks to continuing a ban on bringing torch lighters into
airplane cabins. Five departments (Commerce, Agriculture,
Homeland Security, Treasury, and the Environmental Protection
Agency) accounted for 45 percent of the new regulations.
Since Bush took office in 2001, there has been a 13 percent
decrease in the annual number of new rules. But the new
regulations' cost to the economy will be much higher than it
was before 2001. Of the new rules, 159 are "economically
significant," meaning they will cost at least $100 million a
year. That's a 10 percent increase in the number of high-cost
rules since 2006, and a 70 percent increase since 2001. And at
the end of 2007, another 3,882 rules were already at different
stages of implementation, 757 of them targeting small
Overall, the final outcome of this Republican regulation has
been a significant increase in regulatory activity and cost
since 2001. The number of pages added to the Federal Register,
which lists all new regulations, reached an all-time high of
78,090 in 2007, up from 64,438 in 2001.
Even more worrisome is how agencies implement these rules. In a
recent study titled "Homeland Security and Regulatory Analysis:
Are We Safer Yet?," Jerry Ellig and Jamie Belcore of George
Mason University's Mercatus Center (where I work) looked at the
regulatory analysis behind the Department of Homeland
Security's regulations. They found that the agency conducted
shoddy, incomplete regulatory analysis; never tried to find
regulatory alternatives; and didn't bother arguing that there
was a market failure or a systemic problem that might warrant
government intervention. According to Homeland Security's own
estimate, its rules cost the economy more than $4 billion a
year; the actual cost is likely to be much higher.
The conservative movement has a lot of work to do to retool
itself. But there is a simple starting point. Don't
be like the Bush administration.
Originally published here: http://spectator.org/blog/2008/12/29/time-to-send-the-bushies-home