Here Are the 295 Costliest Rules in Biden’s Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations

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Along with the big spending, there’s big regulation, too. It seems to be mounting a return.

Federal agencies issue thousands of rules and regulations every year compared to a relative handful of laws that get passed by Congress.  

At least on the regulatory front (as distinct from spending), there was a partial reprieve from Washington’s big-government ways between 2017 and 2020 with moves like then-president Trump’s executive order requiring some agencies to ditch at least two rules for every significant regulatory action added. (Successes and failures of this program were covered here.)

The Biden White House’s new Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions was released December 10; I profiled it in Forbes last week as well as here. (The Spring edition was covered in Forbes here, and also here). In this brief article we take a look the heftiest rules in the mix.

Since 1981, the twice yearly Unified Agenda has provided a look at a selection of executive branch regulatory priorities (apart from a non-appearance in Spring 2012). The Agenda depicts a flow of rules, so much of what gets added to the Agenda at a particular point in time carries over from one issue to the next.

One of Biden’s priorities was the abandonment of the just-noted Trump one-in, two-out program, and he made that change effective on day one. Building upon that move and other early Biden executive actions, the Unified Agenda showcases Biden’s activist ambitions.

These pursuits entail expansion of health programs and a propensity for mandates, climate activism, social custodianship and an increase in assumption of normal household duties, and the “equity” pursuit so embraced by progressive activists. There is little streamlining nor government rollback, apart from exceptions like easier over-the-counter access to certain hearing aids.

Overall, the Agenda reveals that 68 departments, agencies and commissions have 3,777 rules in the pipeline at the “Active,” “Completed,” and “Long-term” stages. Note that agencies are not obliged to limit their activities to what they list, however.

Many of these rules are routine, like FAA airworthiness directives or Coast Guard issuances on bridge openings or fireworks notices; of course the same holds often for federal legislation itself, such as the naming of post offices.

However, among the 3,777 rules in the Agenda are 1,163 deemed “significant.” The beefier among these get further classified as “economically significant,” loosely meaning means they sport at least $100 million in annual effects, either adding costs or reducing them. (Surprise: it’s usually adding costs.)

In the Fall Agenda, there are 295 of these “economically significant” ones. These break down as follows: 205 Active (37 of which are appearing in the Agenda for the first time); 40 Recently completed; and 50 Long-term. The chart below breaks this count down by issuer.

Comparatively, there had been 261 economically significant rules in the Trump White House’s final December 2020 Agenda (173 Active, 58 Recently completed, and 30 Long-term). But as noted, Trump’s “high” count was “artificially” increased by the need to write a rule to eliminate a rule to meet the one-in, two-out goal (that’s the one-way ratchet-like nature of the administrative state).

Partly in reflection of that, 36 of Trump’s economically significant rules were classified “Deregulatory,” which would have meant a considerbly lower Trump “net.” The deregulatory distinction is one that the Biden White House ought to have retained, but, characteristically, has eliminated instead.

Read the full article at Forbes.