The American Action Forum (AAF) is out with a new report about the Obama administration's unsuccessful efforts to reduce regulations. The findings are jaw-dropping.
In 2011 and 2012, President Obama signed executive orders that forced agencies to reduce regulatory burdens.
AAF's director of regulatory policy, Sam Batkins, reviews the White House's recent Retrospective Review of Regulations, and finds the administration's efforts have actually increased regulatory burdens. Batkins notes that "executive agencies have added more than $14.7 billion in regulatory costs and 13.4 million paperwork hours."
President Obama's executive orders required cabinet agencies to remove redundant regulations. Instead, their retrospective reports added to regulatory costs and burdens.
Of those reporting, two agencies—the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Commerce—reduced the cost of their regulatory burdens by a combined $6,000,000. The remainder increased their burdens by $14,759,000,000. That's a net $14,765,000,000 increase across agencies.
Only the State Department decreased its paperwork burden hours. The remainder of those reporting increased theirs. The net increase is 13,490,916 in paperwork hours. That's an increase of about 1,500 years of paperwork per year.
The Department of Health and Human Services is "responsible for 81 percent of the net cost increase and 32 percent of the net paperwork surge," Batkins finds.
One notable burden is HHS's “Head Start Performance Standards," which "adds $928 million in annualized costs and more than 470,000 paperwork burden hours." Batkins explains that, "[a]ccording to the agency’s own math, it could also result in 1,400 to 4,400 teachers losing their jobs and more than 12,800 students losing services."
Rather than review their regulations annually, many agencies just cut and paste their findings from one report to the next. Batkins found that an "average 86.6 percent of the regulations contained in the most recent report were listed in past reports."
This seems to suggest regulations are such an overwhelming and oppressive force, that not even the agencies themselves can manage to review the requirements - let alone fulfill them, as agencies expect Americans to do.
Even worse, as Batkins notes, "[w]ith all of the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, it couldn’t manage to develop a single new reform initiative?"
The report finds the Obama administration's retrospective has been increasing regulations under the name of “eliminating red tape.”