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August 22, 2016

In Case You Missed It: New York Times Discusses Expansion Of The Federal Regulatory State

If, in reading Connecting the Dots, it’s begun to feel like the federal government has more to say about more issues, you’re right. The federal regulatory state has expanded dramatically over the last several years—and it’s not only business trade groups that think so. 

Earlier this month, New York Times reporters Binyamin Appelbaum and Michael D. Shear wrote, “In nearly eight years in office, President Obama has sought to reshape the nation with a sweeping assertion of executive authority and a canon of regulations that have inserted the United States government more deeply into American life.” Though President Obama once questioned the expansion of executive power, Appelbaum and Shear noted, “Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.” The reporters also warned this expansion “will shape the presidency for decades to come.” 

According to Appelbaum and Shear’s analysis, in its first seven years the Obama administration finalized 560 major regulations, about 50 percent more than the number President Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush finished in his first seven years. The expansion is far from over. Some of the administration’s “most ambitious rules” will come this year, its eighth and final year. 

The Times reporters spoke to University of Oxford economist and regulatory expert Robert Hahn who said, “The big issue that I grapple with is that the regulatory state keeps growing” and asked, “[W]hen does it become too much?” It is very likely U.S. voters will determine that question in this November’s presidential election. 

Americans will need to speak up forcefully for it to make a difference, however. According to The Times, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have both at least “nodded at the need to ease the burdens of regulation,” but, faced with potential congressional opposition to their agendas and armed with the legacy of the Obama administration, “the appeal of taking action without Congress” would be “hard to resist.” 

Click here to learn more about MSCI’s position on federal regulations.