President Obama has overseen a dramatic expansion of the regulatory state that will outlast his time in the White House.
The reach of the executive branch has advanced steadily on his watch, further solidifying the power of bureaucrats who churn out regulations that touch nearly every aspect of American life and business.
Experts debate whether federal rulemaking has accelerated under Obama, but few dispute that Washington — for better or worse — is reaching deeper than ever before into the workings of society.
“It would be difficult for anyone to pretend that this isn’t a high water mark in terms of regulation,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office who now heads the American Action Forum.
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.