National Debt Clock

Monday, April 5, 2010

Regulatory Trends in the Bush Years

Despite the claims of critics-and some supporters-of the Bush Administration, net regulatory burdens have increased in the years since George W. Bush assumed the presidency. Since 2001, the federal government has imposed almost $30 billion in new regulatory costs on Americans. About $11 billion was imposed in fiscal year (FY) 2007 alone.

Critics of Bush Administration regulatory policy have argued that budget cuts are evidence that restric­tions are being loosened. Yet according to an analy­sis by George Mason University's Mercatus Center and Washington University's Weidenbaum Center, appropriations for federal regulatory agencies have increased during the Bush years from $27 billion in FY 2001 to $44.9 billion in FY 2007-a 44 percent increase in inflation-adjusted dollars.[12] The total staffing of regulatory agencies went up nearly as much, from 172,000 employees to over 244,000- a 41 percent increase.

During the first seven years of the Bush presi­dency, 98 such major rules were promulgated by federal agencies. Of those, 75 (more than 10 per year) increased regulatory burdens on Americans. This is significantly less than the rate during the Clinton Administration, which adopted major increases in regulation at a rate of some 19 times per year from 1997 to early 2001.[19]

Although the Bush Administration imposed fewer new burdens on Americans, the total regulatory bur­den continued to increase in absolute terms. Com­pared to the 74 rule changes that increased regulatory costs, only 23 rule changes reduced burdens. In other words, for every case in which regulators reduced a burden, they increased burdens over three times.

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