Report: Obama cut back substantially on ‘economically significant’ regulations in October

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

A forthcoming report from the conservative Americans for Limited Government (ALG) says President Barack Obama’s administration dramatically cut back on the approval of “economically significant” government regulations in October.

“In the month of October, the Obama Administration approved only four ‘economically significant’ regulations,” the ALG report, obtained by The Daily Caller, reads.

“Since the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) began reviewing ‘economically significant’ regulations at the beginning of the Reagan Administration, there has never been an October where so few have been approved! The October with the next lowest number of OIRA-approved regulations was 2006 when the Bush Administration approved 33.”

The report only compares the number of regulations past presidents have issued in the month of October. It’s unclear if past president have issued fewer “economically significant” regulations in other months than President Obama did in October.

A graph contained within the report shows that the Obama administration has averaged more than 40 such “economically significant” regulations per month over his term. An economically significant regulation is one that’s deemed to have an economic impact of at least $100 million.

“In fact, the only other month where the Obama Administration approved a single-digit number of economically significant regulations was his first month in office in 2009 when he approved eight,” the report adds.

ALG suggests that the reason the Obama administration has held off on issuing “economically significant” regulations in the month before the election is because the president is trying to give the impression he doesn’t have a big government agenda.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe said last week that Obama is purposely “refusing to comply with the law that requires him to publish forthcoming regulations.”

The president, Inhofe said, “doesn’t want the American public to know the terrible cost of the regulatory barrage he plans to unleash in a second term.” (RELATED: Inhofe pushes for transparency after Obama administration misses deadline)

The Washington Examiner reported Sunday, for instance, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding off on $700 billion worth of anti-coal regulations until the end of November. (RELATED OPINION: Obama’s secret — and illegal — regulatory bomb)

“If Obama wins, the EPA would have another four full years to implement their anti-fossil fuel agenda,” Conn Carroll wrote for the Examiner. “But if Romney wins, regulators will have a very narrow window to enact a select few costly regulations that would then be very hard for a President Romney to undo.”

OIRA, the division of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that reviews regulations like these, is supposed to provide for each “economically significant” regulation “an analysis on its economic impact, its impact on the state vs. federal power (federalism), as well as analysis like its impact on Indian Tribes, the federal paperwork burden, and whether it creates an unfunded mandate.” 

OIRA is also supposed to issue a report each spring and fall “on upcoming regulations called the ‘Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.’”

“The last report should have been released in June, but it’s November already and no report,” the ALG report adds. “Congressmen have been demanding its release for months.”

Because the administration won’t release the report, House Education and Workforce Committee chairman Rep. John Kline issued a statement, which is quoted in the ALG report, asking: “What is the president trying to hide? The American people deserve better than an imperial presidency that flouts the law and hides its regulatory ambitions.”

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