The Obama administration has been on a regulation binge this year, approving more than 3,000 rules so far at a pace that is threatening to set a record of Federal Register pages needed to explain them.
The red tape pushed this year mimics its record in 2010, when the administration was in its second year and firmly in its regulation groove. That year, the Federal Register printed 81,405 pages. This year it is set to nearly reach, and potentially beat, that number, according to the group that charts regs, the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
"Currently at 72,897 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 81,359 pages. This threatens the all-time record set in 2010, with 81,405 pages," said the group.
CEI fellow Ryan Young said the costs so far of just the major regulations are up to $4.88 billion with a month to go.
Business groups have raged about Obama red tape, but the administration isn't letting up on the gas as it enters the last year in office. Especially worried are energy and medical businesses as the administration piles on new environmental and Obamacare rules.
The administration frequently says that new rules have positive net benefits, but CEI's vice president for policy, Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., explained that most of the rules are never subjected to a cost analysis, raising concerns that politics is at play.
Crews just produced a review of the 3,554 regulations approved in 2014 and said that less than 1 percent were subjected to a cost analysis.
"The White House Office of Management and Budget reviewed 54 major rules and a few hundred significant ones. Only 16 had cost estimates OMB reviewed, and only 13 had both cost and benefit assessments," he found.
Crews also said that the administration decides which regulations it classifies as "major," thus requiring analysis. And once those are removed from the total, the actual number of the remaining rules put under a cost microscope shrinks further.
"When we go beyond the officially designated major rules, the proportion of all rules with any reviewed cost analysis at all has averaged only around 0.46 percent," he said. "The percentage of all rules with a reviewed cost assessment has never even reached 1 percent; the peak was 0.8 percent in 2009," he said. In 2014, it was 0.45 percent, according to a chart he produced for the CEI website.
Young highlighted just one week of regulations in November as an example of the administration's efforts, when significant new rules were added.
A few examples include a new 229-page rule governing crowdfunding websites and actions, a 502-page Medicare payment regulation and even one changing how sweeteners are identified in jelly and fruit preserves.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.