Cost of Executive Rules: $104 Billion

President Barack Obama speaks on the economy in Denver on July 9, 2014.

Photograph by /Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

President Barack Obama speaks on the economy in Denver on July 9, 2014.

President Barack Obama has staked his year, and at least in part the Democratic Party’s’ midterm chances, on going at it alone.

The cost of the rules his administration is drafting may end up working against him.

To date, Obama has signed more than 40 executive actions, according to a progress report released by the White House today, hitting on policy issues ranging from the minimum wage to manufacturing.

Those actions provide a sharp contrast to Congress, where gridlock remains the norm — something administration officials point to as a winning message with a restless electorate. Even a threat by House Speaker John Boehner to sue the president has been seized on as a political opportunity by the White House.

“They have a plan to sue me for taking executive actions that are within my authority while they do nothing,” Obama said during an event yesterday in Denver. “I have a better idea. They should do something.”

Yet American Action Forum, a self-described “center-right” policy institute, has put a cost on the new rules drafted so far this year by the executive branch: $104 billion.

The group, led by Douglas Holtz-Eakin,  former director of the Congressional Budget Office, compiled the numbers from the Federal Register, where agencies are required to include cost estimates of their rule-making. Using Census Data, the group also estimated the state-by-state impact of the rules, according to a draft of the report obtained by Bloomberg News.

The numbers are hardly representative of the cost of the president’s executive actions specifically — they apply to all rule-making conducted by the executive branch this year . Yet they do underscore that rules, many of which have strong support among Democrats, do come with a cost.

The rule-making includes curbs on Wall Street trading to proposed greenhouse gas standards — top priorities for the administration and many congressional Democrats that have been sharply opposed by Republicans.

The report, from Sam Batkins, the group’s director of regulatory policy, estimates that the final 2014 regulatory tab will exceed $200 billion. So while the debate over what, if any, impact a suit against the president may have on the election, Republicans now have a new piece of political ammunition for any of those political ads dealing with “red tape” or “government overreach.”

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