Study: Both Parties’ Presidents Increase Regulations While in Office

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Both political parties like to reinforce the image of Democrats embracing government regulations while Republicans fight them but a new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows that, as George Gershwin might put it, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

Barack Obama

“President Obama not only oversaw the greatest increase in regulatory restrictions in a single term, his first, but as of 2014 he edged past President George W. Bush as the president with the greatest total increase in restrictions since 1976,” Patrick McLaughlin and Oliver Sherouse write. “Presidents Carter and George H. W. Bush both had increases of more than 70,000 in their first terms, but both lost their reelection bids. Interestingly, while Presidents George W. Bush and Clinton both added regulations at similar rates across their two terms—with Clinton adding significantly fewer restrictions overall compared to Bush—President Reagan oversaw a large increase in regulation during his first term, but a relatively small increase during his second term.”

“From these charts, a picture emerges of a 40-year bipartisan trend of regulatory accumulation, with the last two presidents adding the most regulatory restrictions. However, some presidents, such as President Clinton and President Reagan in his second term, were able to significantly restrain the growth of regulation. Future presidents will need to look to their predecessors to determine how to effectively manage the cumulative effect of regulation and maintain the necessary conditions for entrepreneurship and growth.”