Morning Bell: Bad Moon Rising

Conn Carroll /

Liberals love to claim the Bush administration has broadly weakened regulations at the behest of corporate interests. And the media lap up these claims. Problem is, the nation’s regulatory burden has grown significantly under President Bush and it looks like the situation is going to get worse in the final months of his presidency.

Many federal regulations are justified, some even necessary for a properly functioning market (like those that reinforce property rights and market mechanisms). Nevertheless, all rules come at a cost, and according to a 2005 study by the Small Business Administration, the cost of all rules currently on the books is $1.1 trillion annually. As Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow in Regulatory Policy James Gattuso documents, by almost every measure, regulatory burdens have risen under Bush.

Historically, costly administrative rulemaking skyrockets in the waning days of a presidency. Under Clinton, $13.1 billion in regulations were promulgated in 2000–more than one-third higher than any other year of his term. The first President Bush was no different. He raised regulatory costs $12.5 billion in 1992. With decisions upcoming on greenhouse grasses and polar bear endangered species listing, the current Bush administration has the potential to out due both of his most recent predecessors. Imprudent action on either front could cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars.

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