Conventional wisdom says lawmakers don't get much done in Washington these days — but that doesn't mean federal regulators are on recess.
Federal regulators issued 56 regulations for every law that Congress passed in 2013, according to a new study from the conservative-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Wayne Crews, who wrote the report, argued that the deadlock in Washington is not as bad as it might seem, because "it's supposed to be hard to pass laws."
"The deterioration of the Constitution's separation of, and balance of, powers means that regulators and bureaucrats now make most laws," Crews wrote. "Congress is so 1789, after all."
According to the study, Congress passed and the president signed 65 laws in 2013 — one of the lowest totals in years — while regulators issued 3,659 final rules.
"The executive branch increasingly imposes its will: President Obama and his administration repeatedly say they are not going to wait for Congress," Crews said. "So brace yourselves."
The report comes on the heels of a similar study this week from the conservative public policy organization American Action Forum that blamed the Obama administration for $447 million in regulatory costs per day in 2013.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has termed what it sees as excessive regulations by the Obama administration the "Ten Thousand Commandments."
"We should endeavor to improve society by persuasion, not force," Crews said.
But the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, a liberal advocacy group, says Obama’s regulatory pace has been far too slow. It wants him to ease a bottleneck of regulations that it says has built up for political reasons.
The Obama administration has issued about the same number of final rules each year since 2009, ranging between roughly 3,500 and 3,800 a year. The difference in 2013 was the smaller number of laws passed. In 2012, for example, Congress passed 127 laws, and regulators issued 3,708 final rules. That translated into 29 regulations for each law, nearly half as many as 2013.