How Is President Trump’s Regulatory Rollback Coming Along?


Shortly after being sworn into office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that directed federal government agencies to revoke two existing regulations for every new regulation they might issue.

That executive order represents the President acting to fulfill a campaign pledge he made to reduce the burden of federal regulations on Americans. The question of how well the President’s action to reduce federal regulations is working has just been in the news because of a rather astounding claim made by Vice President Mike Pence while speaking in St. Louis.

It’s no accident this President has been busy doing exactly what he told the American people he’d do leading up to that election in 2016. He promised to roll back the heavy hand of government. And working with your great leaders in Congress—remember when the President promised that we’d repeal two federal regulations for every new federal rule that we put on the books? Well, I’m here to report to you that we haven’t actually done that. This President has actually repealed 22 federal regulations for every new federal rule put on the books. He’s repealed more federal regulations than any President in American history.

That’s the kind of exaggerated claim that motivates professional fact checkers like the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler to, well, check facts. The intrepid reporter quickly dispatched the Vice President’s excessively grandiose claim of having cut 22 regulations for every new one issued, awarding the VP with three Pinocchios.

At the same time, Kessler did find that President Trump appears to be on track to achieving his target of revoking two regulations for every new one issued, which he set in his January 2017 executive order, where the rate at which new federal regulations are being issued has slowed considerably since President Trump was sworn into office.

Separately, Dan Bosch of the American Action Forum, a conservative-leaning non-profit political advocacy group led by former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Holtz-Eakin, found that the net cost of the new regulations issued by federal government agencies will also likely come in under the cap that President Trump set in his executive order to limit the cost of complying with the new regulations.

As for measuring the cost impact of the President’s regulatory rollback, the picture is much murkier. Many of the regulations that have been revoked to date have not been economically significant, so the savings that Americans might realize from having their regulatory burden reduced have not been as great as they might have hoped.

In President Trump’s second year in office, the business of rolling back federal regulations is very much a work in progress, and a very slow moving one at that. With many of the President’s regulatory reduction initiatives not getting underway until the current 2018 fiscal year began in October 2017, there’s a lot of room for achievement remaining in President Trump’s term in office.

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Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and the creator of the Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost.org.

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