Political  Calculations

With the role of red bureaucratic tape in hampering small business just in the news, we thought we'd take a historic look at how many pages of new rules and regulations the federal government spits out every year.

Or rather, in each year beginning with 1936, because that's all as far back as we could find the data! Our chart below visualizes what we found.

Generally speaking, with the exception of the period of World War 2, we find that the federal government used to be pretty well contained when it came to imposing new rules and regulations on the American people - at least, all the way up to 1970, when it appears to have undergone a bureaucratic explosion. Number of Pages of Regulations Added to the Federal Register Each Year, 1936-2011

Here, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency appears to have been the impetus for unleashing unprecedented waves of new rules and regulations affecting nearly every aspect of American life all throughout the next decade.

That changed in the 1980s, as the number of new rules and regulations being issued each year was brought under control. In the 1990s though, the number of federal regulations began creeping steadily upward.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century though, the amount of new rules and regulations issued each year was largely stable. That changed with the financial crisis of 2008, which saw new rules and regulations issued by the federal government spike in that year, but which abated with the waning of the crisis in 2009 as the number of pages issued to the Federal Register fell.

In 2010 however, President Obama cranked up the federal government's regulation mill to all time highs, keeping it there at least through 2011.


Political Calculations

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