Obama famously signaled his intent to use the machinery of government to further his policy goals after the 2010 elections, declaring: “Where Congress won’t act, I will.”
Since then, the administration has pressed ahead unilaterally on several fronts, including immigration, gun control, cyber security and sentencing guidelines for drug offenses.
Meanwhile, new federal rules are accumulating faster than outdated ones are removed, resulting in a steady increase in the number of federal mandates.
Data collected by researchers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center shows that the Code of Federal Regulations, where all rules and regulations are detailed, has ballooned from 71,224 pages in 1975 to 174,545 pages last year.
“All incentives are to regulate more,” said Susan Dudley, the director of George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.
The fight over executive power is increasingly pitting the three branches of government against each other, with Congress and the judiciary struggling to assert power over officials with broad discretion to issue rules.