NYT: Obama’s Legacy Will Be as ‘Regulator-in-Chief’

By Michael Bastasch Published on August 15, 2016

The New York Times has published the first in a series of articles detailing what it sees as a key part of President Barack Obama’s legacy: his massive regulatory agenda.

The Times wrote about Obama’s transformation from “a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power” to “one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.”

“Blocked for most of his presidency by Congress, Mr. Obama has sought to act however he could,” NYT reported Saturday. “In the process he created the kind of government neither he nor the Republicans wanted — one that depended on bureaucratic bulldozing rather than legislative transparency.”

“But once Mr. Obama got the taste for it, he pursued his executive power without apology, and in ways that will shape the presidency for decades to come,” NYT reported.

Obama has issued 600 major regulations, with each costing the economy more than $100 million, on issues ranging from minimum wage for federal workers to carbon dioxide emissions on power plants. As the Times notes, Obama’s use of the bureaucracy to write laws has skyrocketed since he learned to use his pen and phone in 2014.

By summer 2015, Obama had imposed 500 major regulations, but in little more than a year, the president has added 100 major rules with more likely on the way, according to an analysis by the right-leaning American Action Forum.

“And it has imposed billions of dollars in new costs on businesses and consumers,” NYT reported.

“Many of the new rules are little known, even as they affect the way Americans eat, love and die,” NYT reported. “People can dine on genetically engineered salmon. Women can buy emergency contraceptive pills without prescriptions. Military veterans can design their own headstones.”

The Times reported Obama started his presidential career wanting to pass “bold new laws,” but soon had to change course after his agenda sparked major backlash among voters in 2010. Obama was able to secure a second term in 2012, but his strategy changed from engaging Congress to going it alone.

Nowhere has that been more apparent than on energy and environmental policy. Obama has issued new regulations on how much carbon dioxide power plants can emit, which his critics have derided as a backdoor cap-and-trade program.

Obama’s also imposed strict fuel economy standards, largely justifying such rules as a way to reduce emissions and fight global warming.

“He has been much more ambitious and aggressive on environmental regulation than any other president we’ve had,” Jeffrey Holmstead, a lawyer challenging some of Obama’s most expensive environmental regulations.

“History may now judge the regulations to be one of Mr. Obama’s most enduring legacies,” NYT reported. “At the least, his exercise of administrative power expanded and cemented a domestic legacy that now rivals Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society in reach and scope.”


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