Assessing the Obama Years: OIRA and Regulatory Impacts on Jobs, Wages and Economic Recovery

The cumulative regulatory burden of this administration is staggering by recent historical standards. During the past seven and one-half years, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has concluded review of 453 “economically significant” rules. This figure is 38 percent more than the Bush Administration and 41 percent more than the Clinton Administration. These measures have had a profound impact on economic growth, wages, and prices for almost every consumer good imaginable.

Under Executive Orders 13,563 and 13,610, the administration endeavored to “modify, streamline, expand, or repeal” burdensome regulations. Unfortunately, a review of the administration’s reports finds that there has been more expansion than repeal. The administration’s latest report added $16 billion in net costs and 6.5 million paperwork hours. Affordable Care Act regulations and expensive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) measures are often categorized as “retrospective.”

Although OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski has pledged to curtail the “midnight” rush of regulation, the trends through the first half of 2016 reveal a surge of pre-midnight rules. Compared to similar periods during President Clinton and President Bush’s tenure, the Obama Administration has approved 38 percent more economically significant regulation than any time since 1996.

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