Obama budget claims first-term regulations created $91B in benefits

Business groups and conservative lawmakers have criticized the Obama administration aggressive regulatory agenda, particularly in the areas of healthcare finance and the environment.

By one account put forward Tuesday by the conservative-leaning American Action Forum, regulations imposed during Obama’s first term carried a price tag totaling roughly $521 billion.

Yet the administration argues that such estimates do not take the societal benefits of the rules it has imposed, which are more difficult to calculate.

But calculate them the budget’s drafters did — and they concluded that regulations enacted through the first three fiscal years of the Obama administration yielded net benefits exceeding $91 billion.

“This amount, including not only monetary savings, but also lives saved and injuries prevented, is over 25 times the net benefits through the third fiscal year of the previous Administration,” according to the budget.

The methodology used to arrive at the figure was not immediately clear.

Meanwhile, the administration signaled it would continue to examine existing regulations in search of rules that could be simplified or cut. Early in his first term, Obama issued an executive order instructing executive branch agencies to conduct “look-backs” at rules already on the books to identify ones that are outdated, unnecessarily onerous or redundant.

The review produced some 500 reform proposals from across the federal government. As a result, the White House anticipates savings of more than $10 billion in the near term.

“In the coming year, agencies will continue to pursue the regulatory reforms identified in the review process, producing more in savings by simplifying rules, eliminating redundancies and identifying more cost-effective ways of completing their mission and serving the American people,” a section of the budget reads.