Millions Of Federal Regulations – OpEd


The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the publication where virtually every rule issued by the U.S. government’s bureaucrats is published. QuantGov says it contains over 100 million words and “would take the average person over three years to read.”

Within the CFR’s 100 million-plus words are certain words like “shall” and “must” that impose restrictions on things Americans and their businesses do. Since October 2016, QuantGov’s Federal Regulation Tracker has regularly counted the number of times these words of regulation appear within the CFR and graphed the results.

Here is what that chart looks like through October 2023.

Breaking QuantGov’s data up by presidential term, here are some interesting bits of information the graph shows:

  • From October 6, 2016, to January 12, 2017, which covers most of President Barack Obama’s final days in office, the number of restrictions imposed by his administration on Americans increased from 1,072,546 to 1,079,601.
  • President Donald Trump made a point of reducing the regulatory burden on Americans while he was in office. Between January 2017 and January 2021, the rate at which regulations were added to the CFR slowed. They peaked at 1,087,456 in early April 2018 before falling to a low of 1,076,839 in October 2019. They went on to rebound, slowly at first, but then much faster starting from March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S. When President Trump exited the White House on January 20, 2021, the number of restrictions in the CFR totaled 1,089,742. The net increase in regulations during Trump’s administration came during the pandemic.
  • Under President Biden, the regulatory burden on Americans has since increased, even though the pandemic is over. Through October 2023, there are 1,098,730 restrictions contained within the CFR. The number is still rising.

What do you suppose is the economic cost of those nearly 1.1 million regulations?

This article was published by The Beacon

Craig Eyermann

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is also the creator of Government Cost Calculator. He received his M.S. in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State University and M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix, having received a B.S. in both mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

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