The Heritage Foundation

Factsheet #142

March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014 | Factsheet on

Red Tape Rising: Obama’s Regulatory Frenzy

The Red Tape Continues to Rise Under Obama:

  • During President Obama’s first five years in office, the annual regulatory burden on Americans increased by nearly $73 billion. A total of 157 new major regulations were imposed.
  • In 2013 alone, the Obama Administration imposed 26 new major rules—with 16 of them lacking adequately quantified costs.
  • Significantly more regulation is on the way, with 125 additional major rules in the pipeline. These include dozens more rules for implementing Dodd–Frank and Obamacare.
  • Congress must stem this regulatory tide. Foremost among the proposed reforms is legislation to require congressional approval of major new regulations before they take effect, as provided by the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act legislation.

Costliest Major Rules of 2013 (among the 10 out of 26 for which agencies calculated costs):

Annual Cost: $964 million
Implementation Cost: not quantified by agency
November 13, 2013: Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service; Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration; and Department of Health and Human Services, Rules Under the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008; Technical Amendment to External Review for Multi-State Plan Program
The rules implement the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), which requires parity between mental health or substance-abuse disorder benefits and medical or surgical benefits with respect to financial requirements and treatment limitations under group health plans and group and individual health insurance coverage.

Annual Cost: $532.8 million (only partially quantified by agency)
Implementation Cost: $44.6 million
August 21, 2013: Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Responsibility Rules for Broker-Dealers
This rule covers the net capital, customer protection, books and records, and notification rules for broker-dealers. It also updates financial responsibilities.

Annual Cost: $353.3 million
Implementation Cost: not quantified by agency
April 24, 2013: Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor, Employment Training Administration, Wage Methodology for the Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment H-2B, Part 2
This interim final rule governs certification for the employment of non-immigrant workers in temporary or seasonal non-agricultural employment.

Annual Cost: $312.1 million
Implementation Cost: not quantified by agency
October 1, 2013: Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service
This rule narrows the exemption from wage and overtime provisions for live-in help for disabled and elderly companions.

Annual Cost: $260.9 million
Implementation Cost: not quantified by agency
April 18, 2013: Department of Energy, Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Distribution Transformers
This rule adopts more stringent energy conservation standards for distribution transformers.

For more information, see The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder: Red Tape Rising: Five Years of Regulatory Expansion

About the Author