July 8, 2003

BIG-GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS: Cato is on the case:

WASHINGTON — In President Bush’s second year in office, the Federal Register, a chronicle of all regulations proposed and enacted by federal agencies, held an extraordinary 75,606 pages of new rules. That’s about 300 pages issued each business day during 2002. Not only is that a new record for the Bush administration, but it’s an all-time record for any presidential administration, according to Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. of the Cato Institute.

Every year for the past seven years Crews has analyzed countless pages of federal regulation data and documented it in Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State. He examines the process behind creating these rules, why it’s nearly impossible for the government to accurately assess what they cost, and he provides a way by which Congress can rein in the agencies behind the nonstop rule making.

In 2001, President Bush’s first year in office, the Federal Register contained 69,591 pages, 7 percent less than President Clinton’s record-setting 2000 edition, which contained 74,528 pages. However, in its second year in Washington, the Bush administration topped Clinton’s record by over 1,000 pages.

I suppose it’s possible that homeland security and anti-terror measures account for the change, but I rather doubt it.

UPDATE: A reader makes a point that I should have made myself (but then, that’s why I have readers!):

The Federal Register for 2002 may have 75,606 pages, but it is not “75,606 pages of new rules.” The Federal Register includes notices of administrative investigations, notices of administrative decisions, requests for public comment. An agency that wants to reduce regulation and be upheld on appeal has to provide a notice of proposed rulemaking (with commentary), and then when it actually strikes the rule, it has to provide several pages of justifications for the change in the rule and demonstrate that it considered the public comments supporting the status quo. All of this takes up numerous pages in the Federal Register without telling one anything about whether the scope of federal bureaucracy has expanded or shrunk.

True. The effort to abolish the Tea Board took up many pages.

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