Since the midterm elections, business has been complaining that the Obama administration is pushing a "tsunami" of new regulations. This charge has been repeated by some lawmakers on Capitol Hill as a justification for their efforts to roll back, delay, and even block improved standards and safeguards. It is a theme of the 2012 presidential election, as the two main political parties have very different points of view. But what is the reality? Has the Obama administration adopted more regulations than its predecessors?
This report shows that there is little difference between the Obama administration and past administrations in their overall level of regulatory activity. There has been an increase in the number of significant rules during the Obama administration, but that has been driven by the statutory and judicial deadlines the Obama administration faced and by regulatory actions left uncompleted by prior administrations. The number of pending regulations leading into this election year is remarkably similar to comparable time periods under past administrations and does not provide any evidence of plans for an avalanche of regulations to come.
As we engage in a national debate about the role that government can and should play in establishing standards that protect us and our quality of life from unnecessary risks, it's important to work from the facts and a full understanding of the rulemaking process.