A torrent of regulations enacted over the last four years make President Obama’s the most expensive first term in history, with $70 billion in new annual regulatory costs, according to a study released Wednesday by the Heritage Foundation. The Obama administration passed 131 major new rules in those four years, and has hundreds more in the pipeline whose costs haven’t been estimated.
“While historical records are incomplete, that magnitude of regulation is likely unmatched by any administration in the nation’s history,” the study said.
In 2012 alone, the 25 major rules issued carried $23.5 billion in compliance costs, mostly due to Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Only two major rules passed last year actually reduced costs to taxpayers. Rules were considered “major” if they had an economic impact of $100 million per year.
The Environmental Protection Agency was the biggest offender, with new clean air and water rules and fuel standards costing $38 billion per year. Drivers will bear the brunt of the fuel standards, which will raise the cost of new cars by about $1,800, according to Heritage.
The Department of Transportation, which issued fuel standards jointly with the EPA, was second, with about $15 billion in new annual compliance costs.
The administration also hired thousands of new employees to make and enforce those rules, according to the study. Spending on regulatory agencies rose more than 10 percent, from $46.7 billion in 2009 to more than $51.5 billion in 2012.
A study by the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University last month found that rules passed in 2012 cost more than all the rules passed in President Bush and President Clinton’s first terms combined.
Heritage’s findings contrasted sharply with the administration’s cost estimates, which included billions in savings, mostly from health care costs. For instance, the EPA estimated its new emissions standards for power plants would cost the energy industry $10.8 billion, but save taxpayers between $33 billion and $90 billion, 99 percent of which is attributed to health care costs from reduced “particulate matter.”
The Office of Management and Budget last month identified $800 billion in benefits from rules enacted between 2002 and 2012, The Hill noted today. OMB estimated the cost of a decade of new regulations at $57 billion to $84 billion.