The Anti-Democracy Index

In compiling Ten Thousand Commandments over the years (alas, February 8 is going to mark 20 years of this project) it long ago became apparent that the unelected do the bulk of the lawmaking.

That’s why we see legislative proposals to cope with over-delegation of power, the latest being Rep. Todd Young’s (R-Indiana) introduction of the REINS Act (with stands for Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny). REINS passed the House in the 112th Congress, but not the Senate. The 113 Congress will try again.

The re-introduction of REINS inspired me to peruse past annual editions of the Ten Thousand Commandments report with my research assistant. We’ve extracted, since 2003, the number of rules finalized in the Federal Register, and compared it to the number of laws passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the president. Here are the results:

Year Bills Final Rules Multiple
2003 198 4,148 21
2004 299 4,101 14
2005 161 3,943 24
2006 321 3,718 12
2007 188 3,595 19
2008 285 3,830 13
2009 125 3,503 28
2010 217 3,573 16
2011 81 3,807 47


It’s quite eye-opening: Regulators issue vastly more rules than those elected to make law. Calling it unaccountable rulemaking is an understatement; it’s anti-democratic.

Agencies have never issued fewer than a multiple of 12 times as many rules as elected lawmakers, and in 2011, issued 47 times as many.

No big deal, just items for a federal constitutional republic with allegedly limited powers to ponder.