Four More Years = Many More Regs?

From CNSnews recently:

"It’s Friday morning, and so far today, the Obama administration has posted 165 new regulations and notifications on its reguations.gov website.

In the past 90 days, it has posted 6,125 regulations and notices – an average of 68 a day."

I suppose it is impossible to for one to say whether the numbers above, or the rules they represent, are inherently good or bad without the answer being politically driven. However, they are sure to provide fodder in the ongoing debate over how much agency law should be utilized to create the rules which govern the nation.

In any case, numbers like these are certainly one of the reasons why those who favor as little government intervention as possible have been, and will continue to be, wary of the Obama administration's approach to governance.

It is also probably an indication that Obama administration understood, and continues to understand, that those who favor small government were never going to be strong supporters...


  1. I think it's mostly a lesson in behavioral economics. Compare this rush of regulatory rules with the rush of companies to issue new dividends. Companies know that tax rules on dividend payments will soon change, and be taxed as ordinary income. So they are paying out more and larger dividends now, at a time when doing so favors shareholders.

    What if companies expected tax rates on dividends to drop next year? It's no mystery: they'd pay out fewer and smaller dividends now, holding that money back to pay out later when the cost to their shareholders in taxes would be lower.

    The agencies are engaged in the same cost-avoidance behavior, except instead of taxes, they wish to avoid political costs. Writing regulations takes a long time; there's no way these agencies have been doing 68 a day from scratch. These "new" regulations were ready to issue long ago, perhaps even over a year ago. But the political cost of issuing new regulations BEFORE an election was high. So the agencies waited, and waited, and now have a deluge of regulations in the queue, ready to be released AFTER an election, when the political cost is low.

    For that reason, I would look to the total number of regulations issued over the last four years (including the recent deluge) as a better indicator of the next four years. And I expect a similar rush of regulations at the end of Obama's second term (and at the end of the administration after that, and after the next one, etc.).

    By the way, a new regulation is not necessarily anti-business. When an agency repeals a rule entirely, for example, that is also a new regulation subject to notice and comment. So the number of new "rules" being issued will not necessarily expand the C.F.R. Still, I would be surprised if it did not ...

  2. Josh Sturtevant1/12/12 18:20

    Excellent points and analysis Anon.

    I might push back a little on the final one - that the issuance of regs under this administration might not be additive to the CFR (noting of course that you even checked yourself on that one), but the rest of it is all right on.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.