There’s no such thing as a lame-duck president when it comes to regulations. President Obama said that he will use his final year in office to the fullest, pledging: “I plan on doing everything I can with every minute of every day that I have left as president.”
It’s no surprise coming from the president who has flexed his executive muscle on matters ranging from immigration to gun control, has circumvented congressional authority at every opportunity, and has become our nation’s most prolific regulator in chief.
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the administration added some 81,700 pages of new and proposed rules to the Federal Register in 2015, surpassing the record of 81,405 set in 2010. Some of 2015’s whoppers are the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, tougher ozone standards, and the Federal Communications Commission’s sweeping net neutrality rule to regulate the Internet like a public utility—just to name a few.
Six of the seven years of greatest regulatory activity have now taken place on this president’s watch. And this doesn’t take into account the de facto rules issued as “guidance” or “notice” but are never on the books as official regulations. We’ve also seen a spike in the number of economically significant regulations—those that cost the economy $100 million or more annually. Of the 3,000 regulations currently in the pipeline, a whopping 218 of them bear this heavy price tag. And don’t forget the often unaccounted for costs of lost jobs, stifled investment, and trampled economic freedom.
What can we expect in 2016? EPA has vowed to ramp up its efforts, including imposing new methane restrictions on oil and gas producers. The Labor Department will continue its push for the fiduciary rule, a proposal that would limit access to retirement advice for small business employees, while working to expand overtime eligibility for 5 million workers at a cost of $338.5 billion over 10 years. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has payday lenders in its sights with a new proposal that would limit consumers’ access to short-term borrowing products. And again, that’s just naming a few.
The business community will work just as hard to fight back against needless, costly, and overly burdensome regulations in the agencies, in Congress, and in the courts to restore balance to the system. As the president’s record shows, another 365-plus days of unrelenting regulation by this administration is way too long to go unchecked.