Sustained Outrage

Regulations: What is Gov. Romney talking about?

Perhaps it’s become just an accepted notion that the Obama administration has brought the nation’s businesses to a halt with out-of-control regulation. Otherwise, why would GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney have said this in last night’s presidential debate:

Regulations have quadrupled. The rate of regulations quadrupled under this president.

The idea of over-regulation probably comes as a surprise to coal miners who are dying from black lung disease, or to factory workers worried about excessive amounts of explosive dust, or to kids facing dangerous conditions working on the nation’s farms. And in fact, the numbers Gov. Romney threw out don’t seem to be anywhere near accurate, at least according to reporting a few months ago by Politico:

So far, the number of Obama’s regulations trails those of his predecessors …

While the overall number of final Obama rules was slightly higher the year after the 2010 mid-terms, the number of economically significant rules — which have either a $100 million price tag or $100 million in public health benefits — dropped from 70 in 2010 to 55 last year, according to a search of the economically significant rules listed in the OMB database. This year, nearly a third of the big-ticket rules — eight of 25 — have been related to implementing the health care law.

The length of time regulations sat at OMB for review also has increased by more than three weeks since the 2010 elections, from an average of 45 days before to 67 days after.

And here’s how Obama’s 1,004 rules completed as of Tuesday compares overall with his predecessors: George W. Bush had completed 1,073 rules at the same point in office, Clinton 1,775, according to the OMB database.

Cass Sunstein, an Obama friend who had been running regulatory review at the White House Office of Management and Budget, bragged about the numbers:

Just the fact is we haven’t had as many as our predecessor. That’s suggestive that there’s been some discipline.