The cost to taxpayers for just nine executive orders signed by President Barack Obama is $31 billion, according to a new report.
The American Action Forum found that Obama’s "pen and phone" strategy of going around Congress has incurred major costs for Americans for reasons including the delay of provisions in Obamacare and imposing new gun control measures. The group analyzed the most expensive executive orders and administrative action taken by the president for its analysis.
"‘I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone … I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball.’ That was President Obama in 2014 pledging to use executive action to implement his policy priorities," writes Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute. "The American people elected Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate and President Obama responded through regulation, rather than working with Congress on legislation."
"The regulatory costs of this approach are well-known, amounting to more than 600 major regulations, totaling $743 billion in costs," Batkins said. "However, there are also fiscal costs, burdens borne by taxpayers and not just companies complying with federal rules. Conservatively, this ‘pen and phone’ approach will cost taxpayers more than $31.3 billion in increased spending and debt."
The costliest executive action is creating a new repayment plan for student loans, totaling $15.4 billion. Delaying the employer health mandate under Obamacare cost taxpayers $12 billion, and changing cost sharing provisions for Obamacare insurers cost $3 billion.
Executive orders mandating overtime for contractors cost $501 million, while the Labor Department’s overtime rule that goes into effect in December will bring $115 million in unfunded state costs.
An executive order creating additional background checks for transferring firearms is costing $5.5 million. In all, the American Action Forum found $31.3 billion in costs from nine administrative actions.
The over $30 billion price tag was not allocated through Congress, but through administrative maneuvering.
"Regulatory action is often framed as a way to generate net benefits for the American people while carrying out the will of Congress," Batkins said. "For as much as critics target some regulations for scrutiny, there is typically at least the appearance of congressional approval."
"For the actions discussed here, President Obama acted unilaterally without legislative approval to cement his policy vision," he said. "There are regulatory costs for these rules, but taxpayers will also have to find $31 billion to cover this expensive vision."