Trump Boasts of Bringing a 'Screeching' Halt to Growth of Regulations

Frederick Owens
December 16, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump uses gold scissors to cut a red tape tied between two stacks of papers representing the government regulations of the 1960s (L) and the regulations of today (R) after he spoke about his administration's efforts in deregulation in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 14, 2017.

President Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon touted his administration's effort to "cut the red tape of regulation".

"When the government is interfering less in people's lives, they have greater opportunity to pursue their goals", Neomi Rao, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters following the president's ribbon-cutting event.

Within ten days of taking office, Trump ordered his team to slash regulatory hurdles aggressively.

Trump said there used to be approximately 20,000 pages in the code of federal regulations, compared to over 185,000 today.

"So together", the president continued, "let's cut the red tape".

But as the documents released Thursday show, individual federal agencies have heard the White House's call to reconsider a broad array of regulations, even though these agencies must undergo a time-consuming process to repeal any rule.

"It seems too absurd to even believe, once you dig into it", said James Goodwin, a policy analyst for the Center for Progressive Reform. "Instead of adding costs as so many others have done ... for the first time in decades, we achieved regulatory savings".

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The president then stood between one pile of papers, labeled "1960", and the other, much larger stack labeled "Today", and cut a piece of red tape stretched between the two with gold scissors.

"We're getting back below the 1960 level, and we'll be there fairly quickly", he added.

One way that the White House has inflated its deregulatory record is through apples-to-oranges accounting. "We have so many companies that are destroyed by regulation - and destroys obviously jobs".

"The two-out, one-in rule is very powerful on the campaign trail". But when you put something like that into practice - man, is it complicated.

Still, the White House has now set a goal for 2018 of repealing three old regulations for every new regulation. But that count includes hundreds of regulations that had been all but declared dead for years. "I do think there's something to the idea that the business optimism we've seen - indicated in GDP growth, hiring etc. - is fueled in part by an expectation of less regulation and a greater attention to the impacts of regulations on the books", said Dudley, a former George W. Bush official. Another, relating to harbor maintenance fees, was first proposed in 1992 and has remained on the federal regulatory docket ever since.

The Department of Transportation has begun rolling back 82 regulations since Trump stepped into the Oval Office, ABC News reported. "We know that some of the rules contained in these pages have been beneficial to our nation and we're going to keep them".

But they have also generated fierce push-back from state attorneys general and environmental groups, who say that pulling back regulations has left the environment more vulnerable to pollution and consumers with fewer of the protections that were adopted after the financial crisis.

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