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Obama approved fewer regulations than Bush, but a greater number of expensive rules

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Obama (Susan Walsh/AP)

A common rallying cry among conservative critics of the Obama administration is that President Obama is strangling prospective job creation by over-regulating the economy. But a Bloomberg study of government data finds that Obama approved fewer regulations than President George W. Bush at this same point in his tenure.

The current White House approved 613 federal rules in 33 months--a total that's 4.7 percent lower than the 643 cleared under President Bush during his first 33 months in office, according to Bloomberg's analysis of data from the Office of Management and Budget.

What has increased, Bloomberg finds, is the number of large-scale federal rules--those costing more than $100 million to implement. The president has approved 129 of such initiatives, compared to 90 for Bush, 115 under President Bill Clinton and 127 under President George H. W. Bush. Some of that cost increase is due to inflation, Bloomberg notes.

Overall, the annual cost of federal regulations has not reached the peak set in fiscal 1992 by George H. W. Bush. Under Obama, the cost of regulation is estimated to be $7 billion to $11 billion per year. The average between 1981 and 2008 was $6.9 billion per year in current dollars. The peak in 1992 was $20.9 billion in current dollars.

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