Debunking the myth of Obama’s regulatory record

posted at 12:01 pm on August 3, 2012 by Rob Bluey

Today’s resignation of regulatory czar Cass Sunstein has revived a myth about President Obama’s record on regulation. Let’s be clear: This president’s regulatory reforms pale in comparison to the vast number rules he’s imposed on Americans.

In just the first three years of Obama’s presidency, his administration added 106 new major federal regulations at a cost of more than $46 billion per year.

Sunstein, the liberal media darling who headed the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will return to his previous post at Harvard Law School. While working for the White House, Susnstein’s job was to oversee regulations throughout the federal government. Glenn Beck called him “the most dangerous czar.”

The announcement prompted the typical flattering statements from the White House that Politico’s Mike Allen carried verbatim. They praised Sunstein for saving “billions” with his reform efforts. Of course, missing from the story was any mention of the costly regulations that the administration has also implemented.

Obama’s statement:

Cass has shepherded our review of existing rules to get rid of those that cost too much or no longer make sense, an effort that is already on track to save billions of dollars.  With these reforms and his tenacious promotion of cost-benefit analysis, his efforts will benefit Americans for years to come.

Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget:

Cass also oversaw the historic government-wide regulatory ‘lookback,’ designed to streamline, improve, and sometimes eliminate existing rules — helping businesses, consumers, and workers alike. That effort has already produced over $10 billion in five-year savings, along with the elimination of tens of millions of hours in annual paperwork burdens.

There’s more to the story. And in this case, it’s worth debunking, once again, the well-worn myth of Obama’s record on regulatory issues.

Obama famously declared in this year’s State of the Union: “I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.” The Heritage Foundation’s James Gattuso and Diane Katz ran the numbers. And Obama shouldn’t be bragging.

As the chart shows, Obama was misleading the American people. While talking about the total number of regulations, he failed to mention that his administration’s major new rules were far greater in number and costlier than those adopted under President George W. Bush. It was a point that Sunstein made as well, earning him a “Pinocchio” from the Washington Post for “omitting important facts.”

It should also be noted that some of Bush’s actions “eased government constraints” on Americans, according to Gattuso and Katz.

Last week as the U.S. House considered a package of regulatory reforms, USA Today reported the White House is holding back on some of its most expensive and controversial regulations. In the meantime, red tape will continue to strangle the U.S. economy and American businesses, as Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) articulated so well in a floor speech that when viral last week:

Rob Bluey directs the Center for Media and Public Policy, an investigative journalism operation at The Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter: @RobertBluey

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Hey Cass do you actually believe what your lying eyes sees?

Conservative4Ever on August 3, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Why now? Besides being a commie, what about Sunstein has made him a political liability for teh One?

forest on August 3, 2012 at 12:05 PM

That chart should be in a Mitt ad STAT! Just look at the money this lying anti-American is costing us? Gads, WE HAVE got to get rid of bho!

letget on August 3, 2012 at 12:07 PM

It would be interesting to see a list of all the self-annointed genius academics that joined the Obama Administration, and then fled back to academia after their policies blew up in the real world. Romer, Summers, Sunstein…

JeremiahJohnson on August 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Rats fleeing the sinking Obama ship.
Back to the safe, insulated life of Ivy League academia.

Many government officials leave for private business to cash in, but after the economic disaster of the past four years, who would hire them?

MichaelGabriel on August 3, 2012 at 12:11 PM

As the chart shows, Obama was misleading the American people.

Obama is LYING to the American people. Say the L word. It won’t kill you.

The Rogue Tomato on August 3, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Going back to Easy Street at Harvard to help the wife.

Jabberwock on August 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM

their plan IS working…as intended….

t8stlikchkn on August 3, 2012 at 12:14 PM

One only needs to look at the Utility MACT: Here

The Republicans who jumped ship on passing this deserve to be voted out of office.

Congress has the ability to reign in the wayward EPA, yet the continually refuse to do so. The EPA is a regulatory agency, one can hardly blame them for doing what they do. A trained tiger is still a tiger, and no one should be surprised when it attacks it’s owner.

We have no one to blame for overregulation except ourselves. We have continually elected politicians on both sides who refuse to take back their Constitutional duty of writing law.

The Executive branch was never designed to have the power to write law and enforce those same laws which is exactly what we have through the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Occupational Safey and Health Act. These are the basis for all the regulatory powers in the Executive branch. Don’t blame the President and EPA for being tigers. Get to the root of the problem and elect representatives who will amend or re-write the sources of the authority given to the Executive.

weaselyone on August 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM

All that I know is that he is killing me financially.

I have lots of customers who want and need to expand their manufacturing here in the U.S. They also have had record breaking profits in 2009, 2010 & 2011 to fund such expansions.

They can’t due regulations and threat of more to come.

It would be like citizens building a new house and neither being able to use it nor able to have any way to sell it.

Kermit on August 3, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Want a high-paying banking job? Consider a compliance career (subscription required)

Do you want more job security or, even better, a big, fat raise? If so, you should quickly get up to speed on consumer protection laws, then apply for a job in your bank’s compliance department.

Because of the Dodd-Frank Act and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, banks are scrambling to find compliance personnel with expertise in consumer protection law.

The nation’s biggest banks have done the most hiring to date, but community banks are also out looking to expand their compliance staffs.

“Nobody is ignoring this, because they can’t afford to,” says Tom Watkins, a founding partner of executive search firm Chartwell Partners.

The shift has created a windfall for aspiring bank executives who are fortunate enough to have the relevant professional experience.

“These are often senior hires,” says Jeanne Branthover, a managing director at Boyden Global Executive Search. “Banks are having to pay more for the right talent, often 50% to 100% more if they want someone to manage it.”

The rising demand for personnel could have another side effect that could benefit certain existing employees. “Give your compliance officers a raise,” suggests Jo Ann Barefoot of Treliant Risk Advisors.

Banking companies that are unable to bring on a new staff member are often resorting to rearranging job duties, says Michelle Brewer, the chief compliance officer at $1.2 billion-asset Palmetto Bank.


Banks, of course, have always had to deal with consumer compliance laws such as the Truth in Lending Act and the Truth in Savings Act.

But two key changes have transpired. The first is an emphasis by all federal and state bank regulators on Unfair or Deceptive [and Abusive] Acts or Practices, or UDAAP. Another change is that the one-year-old CFPB is a different kind of regulatory animal, taking unusual steps such as bringing along lawyers during an on-site examination.

“Technical compliance with the law” used to be the primary responsibility of compliance officers, says Ann Jaedicke, a managing director at Promontory Financial Group.

“Now the compliance officer has to focus the organization on fairness, because fairness is the focus of the CFPB,” Jaedicke adds. “It’s just a different way of thinking.”


Still, most of the banking industry is trying to hire new staff with experience in consumer issues, Branthover said. And to make it more difficult, banks are even competing with other industries, like healthcare, for compliance talent.

“There’s not a huge talent pool, but every single financial institution has to have someone who can directly answer these issues,” Branthover says.

Compliance people do not produce revenue. Compliance people do not make loans to small businesses that create jobs, or mortgages to first-time homebuyers. But this is where all the banks are spending their money now.

And we wonder why our economy is not growing.

rockmom on August 3, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Pres. Minimal Truth–saying what benefits him knowing his mindless minions are perpetually asleep at the wheel and the lapdog media is too busy researching the ingredients of Mitt’s horse feed…

hillsoftx on August 3, 2012 at 12:25 PM

As I have pointed out before, Harvard Business, Law and Government schools are the basis for more problems we face in this country today than any other “source”. How very appropriate that Cass Sunstein is returning to his job at Harvard to continue turning out the so called “leaders” of the future that will continue to corrupt the towns, cities, states and federal government agencies in which they work. It is not their fault but the fault of what they are….taught.

Pardonme on August 3, 2012 at 12:25 PM

It would be interesting to see a list of all the self-annointed genius academics that joined the Obama Administration, and then fled back to academia after their policies blew up in the real world. Romer, Summers, Sunstein…

JeremiahJohnson on August 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM

There was not a single hire by this Administration, in either cabinet posts or White House staff that deal with economic issues, that came from the private sector. NOT. ONE.

rockmom on August 3, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Obama is LYING to the American people. Say the L word. It won’t kill you.

The Rogue Tomato on August 3, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Beat me to it…

ontheright on August 3, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Sunstein is likely delusionally insane, as anyone who read his works would surmise. He lives in a make believe world and believes himself godlike in percipience. The lives of real people are simply unreal to him. Mere play things.

pat on August 3, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I get so tired of seeing words that characterize obamao as “misleading”….. the guy is a LIAR!

ultracon on August 3, 2012 at 12:44 PM

…M a t h…is…H a r d…!!!
created&saved crowd

KOOLAID2 on August 3, 2012 at 12:48 PM

LIAR…LIAR…LIAR…LIAR…LIAR…LIAR…LIAR!… it’s OK!…it rolls out of the mouth onto the tounge… e a s i l y!
L I A R…!!!

KOOLAID2 on August 3, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Obama famously declared in this year’s State of the Union: “I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.”

Obviously, he doesn’t know what a regulation is.

BTW, Bush didn’t approve those. Someone else did.

BobMbx on August 3, 2012 at 1:00 PM

rockmom on August 3, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Just go ahead and say it. “Compliance people are just as useful as teats on a boar hog.”

Kermit on August 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM

That “Additional Yearly Regulatory Costs” chart should show negative numbers, and a bar extending below the line.

Regulations are the anchor that American businesses are dragging.

Do you hear that, Mitt?!

Dexter_Alarius on August 3, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Oh my, a quote from Glenn Beck. Doesn’t that usually send the trolls into a head-banging fit of rage?

slickwillie2001 on August 3, 2012 at 3:43 PM