A New Year of Regulation: Obama’s Record-Setting Federal Register

Duly Enacted Laws vs Unaccountable Regulation. The Federal Register runs wild. Duly Enacted Laws vs. Unaccountable Regulation. The Federal Register runs wild. The federal government spends heavily; it also regulates heavily.

The Federal Register is the daily depository of proposed and final rules and regulations, presidential documents, agency notices and such.

As 2013 draws to a close, President Obama is delivering to America another record-setting Federal Register, this one to be the third highest unless the last day of the year brings an even greater deluge than I expect.

But there’s more: Of the five highest-ever page counts since the Register first appeared in 1936, four now belong to Obama. (George W. Bush’s final year, 2008, was once the record-holder at 79,435.)

Here are the relevant recent annual roundups.

2008: 79,435 pages (That was George W. Bush; and at the time, the record-setter)
2009: 68,598 pages (Obama’s first year; a big decline that once looked promising…)
2010: 81,405 pages (Obama sets all time record-high Federal Register page count)
2011: 81,247 pages (Obama sets second-highest)
2012: 78,961 pages
2013: 79,434 pages (with December 31 still to go, 2013 will be the new third-highest)

As of December 30, 2013, the Federal Register stands at 79,434 pages; the 31st will push it up to third place, behind Obama’s two 81,000-plus years.

The official published bound and PDF versions of the Register are actually a little higher, at 79,566 on the 30th, but eventually the official tally will omit skips and blanks, which I net out already as part of a daily roundup.

For reference, here’s my chart with Federal Register page counts going back to 1936.

There are “glitches,” as Obama would say, with using Federal Register page counts as the proxy for regulation, and I describe those each year in Ten Thousand Commandments, but that is the fault of a government that won’t measure itself, not of others.

For some added perspective on the out-of-control administrative state, the accompanying photo is one I took recently in Sen. Mike Lee’s office (R-Utah): Atop the bookshelf is a small stack of the Public Laws passed by Congress and signed by the president in 2013.

But filling the shelves? That’s the Federal Register in 2013 alone.

The unelected do the bulk of the lawmaking in America, and the administration — from the Environmental Protection Agency, to John Podesta, to the president himself — promise to circumvent Congress whenever they can’t constitutionally enact their left-wing agenda.

Meanwhile, the administration also didn’t bother to release the final 2013 Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulation; only the draft was issued.