Friday, October 31, 2008


Remember all the rampant deregulation that occurred over the past eight years? Yeah, neither do I. Maybe that's because it never happened:
Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute tracks regulation across the entire federal government. He reports that the Bush administration set an all-time record in 2004, when it published more than 75,000 pages of proposed and enacted rules in the Federal Register.

Leftists might assume that many of these rules were actually watering down earlier standards -- but where's the evidence of declining compliance costs? Lafayette College economist Mark Crain estimates more than $1.1 trillion in federal regulatory costs for 2004, up an inflation-adjusted 16% from 2000. Overall agency enforcement budgets have increased each year since 2004.

A recent report, "Regulatory Agency Spending Reaches New Height," from Washington University's Weidenbaum Center puts Mr. Bush's regulatory activity in historical context. Co-authors Veronique de Rugy and Melinda Warren say that when it comes to spending on regulatory agencies, our current president is almost in a class by himself, with an increase of almost 68% during his two terms. In constant dollars the Bush regulatory budget increases vastly exceed those of predecessors Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon and, yes, Lyndon Johnson.

Looking at regulatory spending in percentage terms, Mr. Bush's staggering 2003 increase of more than 24% was the largest in the last 50 years. If Mr. Obama considers this a record of deregulation -- and if current polls hold -- America's economy could be in for a very long four years.
Remember, it's hard to find the cure when you can't diagnose the disease properly.

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