The Obama Administration is aggressively exploiting regulation to achieve its policy agenda, issuing 157 new major rules at a cost to Americans approaching $73 billion annually. In 2013 alone, the Administration imposed 26 new major rules. Although slightly below President Obama’s first-term annual average (33), it was still twice the annual average of his predecessor George W. Bush. And much more regulation is on the way, with another 125 major rules on the Administration’s to-do list, including dozens linked to the Dodd–Frank financial regulation law and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Reforms of the regulatory process are critically needed. Without decisive action, the costs of red tape will continue to grow, and the economy—and average Americans—will suffer.
Regulatory overreach by the executive branch is only part of the problem. Much of the red tape imposed over the past five years has been driven by vast and vaguely worded legislation, such as the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law, in which Congress granted broad discretion to regulatory agencies. Doing so allows lawmakers to claim credit for “doing something” while evading blame for specific regulations.
There are many more regulations to come—agencies have identified 125 additional major rules they intend to work on this year, including dozens linked to Dodd–Frank and Obamacare.
Reforms of the regulatory process are critically needed. Among these: congressional approval before any new major regulation takes effect; analyses of the regulatory consequences of all proposed legislation before a vote is held; sunset deadlines in law for all major regulations; and review of independent agencies’ regulations, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in the White House regulatory review process.