When I was a kid, Dad always told my sister and me that if Santa Claus caught us awake on Christmas Eve, he'd put pepper in our eyes.
President Barack Obama is imparting a similarly welcome "gift" to the economy as he wraps up his term. He's busy pushing "midnight regulations" out the door, but the pace seems almost a provocation, to stupefy and create chaos, to dare president-elect Donald Trump -- who said 70 percent of regulations "can go," -- to get rid of them all.
Obama’s 2016 Federal Register today stands at 94,908 pages. It took two books to publish just today's 697-page output (see the pic here), something that's happened several times recently.
Within all this year's pages, the Obama administration has issued 3,756 final rules and regulations, 130 of them this week.
A lot of coal in the economy's stocking.
It recent days, regulations have included "sound" requirements for electric and hybrid vehicles, energy conservation requirements for dishwashers, disability non-discrimination regulations for movie theaters, methane-venting rules, and workplace slip-and-fall regulations.
There are regulations for everything, except for the emission of regulations.
As it happens, rules and "guidance" issued at the tail end of the Obama administration are subject to expedited expulsion by Trump and the 115th Congress via the Congressional Review Act. I've compiled a list of over 200 of those considered (alas, by agencies themselves) "significant." But it would take an aggressive effort to make to make it happen.
Of course, the Federal Register contains a lot of material besides final rules and regulations, like notices and other communications and clarifications. But it's one of the few gauges we have, and it signals unprecedented activity.
On December 27, when federal bureaucrats return to work, the Federal Register will top 95,000 pages.
But most shocking about Obama’s 2016 Federal Register is that it stands fully 13,000 pages higher than the last all-time record. Before the year is even finished.
There are records, and then there are records, I guess. It's simply astounding.
The prior all-time record—also held by Obama—was 81,405 pages in 2010. But Obama topped that back on November 17. Before Thanksgiving.
So since November 17, the Federal Register has been setting a new record every single day.
Ninety-thousand pages heretofore had been unheard of. Up until this year, the 80,000 pages would shock, and had been surpassed just three times (in 2010, 2011 and 2015).
The chart nearby shows the 15 highest Federal Register page counts. Obama holds seven of the 10 highest counts.
A bit less than a week remains in this record-setting year. Could Obama cross 100,000 pages?
For the record, the highest calendar-year page counts for recent presidents, in descending order, are:
- George W. Bush: 79,435 in 2008
- Bill Clinton: 74,258 in 2000
- Jimmy Carter: 73,258 in 1980
- George Bush 57,973 in 1991
- Ronald Reagan: 57,736 in 1981
President-elect Donald Trump might note that President Ronald Reagan brought page counts down from Carter’s 73,258 to as low as. 44,812. Trump has promised a freeze on regulations and to eliminate two rules for every new rule agencies issue.
To address the Obama surge, Trump will need tough 100-Minute, 100-Hour and 100-Day Agendas.
Originally posted to Forbes.com.