Want an insight on why we’re experiencing the worst recovery since the Great Depression? The US Chamber of Commerce points out that the Code of Federal Regulations has grown at a pace outstripping economic growth — and especially job creation — during the Barack Obama administration, expanding by 7.4%, with a good part of that growth in the first year:
Over the past three years, the bound edition of the Code of Federal Regulations has increased by 11,327 pages – a 7.4 percent increase from Jan. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2011. In 2009, the increase in the number of pages was the most over the last decade – 3.4 percent or 5,359 pages.
Over the past decade, the federal government has issued almost 38,000 new final rules, according to the draft of the 2011 annual report to Congress on federal regulations by the Office of Management and Budget. That brought the total at the end of 2011 to 169,301 pages.
That is more than double the number of pages needed to publish the regulations back in 1975 when the bound edition consisted of 71,244 pages.
The figures were released on Monday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., when the business federation held its annual Labor Day briefing on the state of the economy, obstacles to job creation and the burden of regulations on the labor market.
To put this in perspective, the growth rate in the first George W. Bush term — when he enjoyed one-party control of Washington for a couple of years as well — was 4.4%. That was bad enough; by 2008, the annual compliance cost to the economy was $1.7 trillion, according to a 2010 Small Business Administration study. If compliance costs increase at the same ratio as regulations, the Obama administration added nearly $126 billion in compliance costs in three years.
But that ratio may not tell us the whole story. Regulations still remain to be written for Obama’s two biggest legislative “achievements” — ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. The passage of both bills created massive ambiguity on compliance costs, because both bills deferred a huge amount of regulatory production to bureaucrats within the executive branch. Much of that regulation remains to be written, no doubt delayed beyond the election so as to prevent discussion of the far-reaching implications of the power Congress handed to HHS and other agencies.
When those regimes get fully fleshed out, expect the increase rate of regulation to skyrocket — and investment to decline.