NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Code of Federal Regulations Expanding under Obama

March 26, 2014

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains all of the permanent rules published by federal agencies in the Federal Register. Since 1975, the number of pages in the CFR has increased 146 percent, says Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The CFR is different from the Federal Register, which contains material in addition to final rules (and contains more than 70,000 pages of material each year). There are 50 titles in the CFR, and its page count has only grown over the years, especially under President Obama.

  • In 1960, the CFR had 22,877 pages across 68 volumes. At the end of 1976, it consisted of 133 volumes and 71,224 pages.
  • At the end of President George W. Bush's second term in 2008, the number of pages in the CFR stood at 157,974.
  • But at the end of 2013, the CFR had 175,496 pages -- a 146 percent increase since 1975.
  • In his first five years in office, President Obama has added 17,522 pages of regulations -- that's an 11 percent increase in the size of the regulatory state and an average of 3,504 pages each year. President Bush's total eight years in office, on the other hand, resulted in a total of 2,490 pages each year.

While page counts are not a perfect way to gauge regulatory impact, it is clear that the greater government activity has hurt the private sector and employment.

Source: Wayne Crews, "New Data: Code of Federal Regulations Expanding, Faster Pace under Obama," Competitive Enterprise Institute, March 17, 2014.


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