Back in 2012, President Obama emphasized that he had issued fewer rules in his first three years as president than his predecessor President George W. Bush. And it was true, as far total number of final rules in the annual Federal Register went.
In fact it’s still true, after six years: President Bush issued 23,367 rules over his last six years. President Obama, according to today’s Federal Register, has issued 21,564 rules, and won’t “catch up” by year-end.
Bush averaged 3,894 rules annually, compared to Obama’s 3,594 (so far).
But there’s more. As I described over at Forbes this week, Obama’s major regulations—the big ones whose impact on the economy is expected to $100 million annually, were and are considerably higher that during the Bush era.
Such disclosures may be found in the federal Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. It normally appears twice a year, and the new one was published just before Thanksgiving.
The chart nearby shows “economically significant” rules completed over the past 12 years, showing Bush’s final six years in front of Obama’s six.
Such “economically significant” rules are presumed by officials to account for the bulk of regulatory costs (This is arguable, however).
President Bush issued 277 economically significant rules between 2003 and 2008, an annual average of 46. President Obama has issued 407—almost 50 percent more. Obama’s average is 68 annually.
The pullback in regulations that occurred back during the 2012 presidential election cycle didn’t change the picture.
The total number of regulations Obama pointed to do matter a lot, but can mask costs and trends in more substantial rulemakings. In the pen and phone era of rulemaking, everything must be watched closely, even agency memoranda, notices and blog posts.