One of the most significant differences in domestic policy between the Trump Administration and the former Obama White House is the attitude towards regulations.
According to a Forbes study by Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., by the end of the last year of the Obama presidency, The printed version of the Federal Register had reached 97,110 pages, by far an all-time record. That dwarfs, Crews noted, 2015’s count of 80,260 pages, and it shattered the 2010 all-time record of 81,405 by 15,705 pages.
The overwhelming number of regulations was just one issue. The former White House also established vague, undisclosed interpretations of federal regulations.
The Trump Administration moved quickly to reverse Obama’s paradigm. Almost immediately upon taking office, the new President demanded that for every new regulation introduced, 2 old ones must be cut. Agencies have been forced to comply. So far, 14 regulations have been cut for every significant new one implemented.
Additionally, the White House demanded that agencies place their guidance documents on easily searchable public websites. Bureaucracies are now required to permit citizens to give their input on these guidelines, and they will have the ability to ask agencies to withdraw guidance they believe is wrong. Agencies are also prohibited from enforcing rules that have not been made publicly known.
The latest Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom notes that,
“The U.S.’s economic freedom ranking has risen six places, and its overall score in the 2019 Index is the highest recorded since 2011. This improvement reflects the impact of major regulatory and tax reforms on economic growth, investment, and business confidence. In 2018, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since 1969. Significant regulatory reform has resulted in the delay or withdrawal of 2,253 pending regulatory actions since January 2017.”
In 2018, the American Action Forum (AAF) noted that the Trump Administration was slashing regulations at a record pace. The study found that approximately $16.4 billion in regulations emanating from 70 agencies were cut.
A Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) analysis found that,
“In 2017, Trump’s first year, the Federal Register finished 2017 at 61,308 pages, the lowest count since 1993 and a 36 percent drop from President Barack Obama’s 95,894 pages in 2016, which had been the highest level in history.”
In its 2019 “10,000 Commandments” report, CEI outlines key facts:
- The estimated $1.9 trillion “hidden tax” of regulation is greater than the corporate and personal income taxes combined. If the cost of federal regulations were a country, it would be the 9th largest, behind India and just ahead of Canada.
- Each U.S. household’s estimated regulatory burden is at least $14,615 annually on average. That amounts to 20 percent of the average pre-tax household budget and exceeds every item in that budget, except housing.
- In 2018, the Trump administration issued 3,368 rules. That’s more than the 3,281 final rules in 2017, which was the lowest number of regulations coming out of federal agencies in a single year since the National Archives began publishing rule counts in 1976.
- In 2017, President Trump’s first year, the Federal Register finished at 61,308 pages, the lowest count since 1993 and a 36 percent drop from former President Barack Obama’s 95,894 pages, which had been the highest level in history. The 2018 Federal Register rose to 68,082 pages (however Trump’s rollback of rules can add to rather than subtract from the Register).
- In the pipeline now, 67 federal departments, agencies, and commissions have 3,534 regulatory actions at various stages of implementation(recently “Completed,” “Active,” and “Long-term” stages), according to the fall 2018 “Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.”
- Of the 3,534 regulations in the Agenda’s pipeline, 174 are “economically significant” rules, which the federal government describes as having annual economic effects of $100 million or more. Of those 174, 38 are deemed “deregulatory” for purposes of E.O. 13,771.
Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government.