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June 7, 2017

The Astonishing Regulatory Crackdown

Trump’s unprecedented rollback of the burden on all Americans should be celebrated far and wide.

Media pundits are more than happy to remain hyper-focused on what they absurdly allege are “incriminating” issues related to Donald Trump’s presidency. But rarely, if ever, do they focus on what, at least in theory, is good news for Democrats and Republicans alike — for example, the Trump administration’s unprecedented rollback in regulatory output.

After all, in 2011, Barack Obama stated: “What I have done — and this is unprecedented, by the way, no administration has done this before — is I’ve said to each agency, don’t just look at current regulations — or don’t just look at future regulations, regulations that we’re proposing, let’s go backwards and look at regulations that are already on the books, and if they don’t make sense, let’s get rid of them.”

Of course, the truth is that the regulatory state grew exponentially under Obama despite his rhetoric, and Democrats — contrary to what they claim — advocate regulations anywhere and everywhere they can get them. But one of the most ignored achievements of the Trump administration so far is just how little the regulatory state is growing.

In “The Historic Nature of the Regulatory Slowdown,” the American Action Forum’s Sam Batkins writes of the “profound” nature of Trump’s curtailing the regulatory state. Batkins astonishingly reveals, “The White House has released just 8 percent of the historical volume of regulation. Cabinet agencies have only finalized $33 million in costs, compared to a 2005 to 2017 average of $26 billion. On the cost side, regulatory output is just 0.12 percent of historic norms.” He adds, “By virtually any measure, dating back through two Democratic presidents and one Republican president, the lack of regulatory output is historic. … For perspective, the Obama Administration finalized $58 billion in regulatory costs during roughly the first four months of 2016. President Bush approved $22 billion in costs during this period in 2008.”

What would truly put the icing on the cake is if this trend can be maintained — which is questionable for various reasons and impending circumstances. But so far, the crackdown is truly something to behold. Hopefully, it also signals the revival of U.S. manufacturing. The Manhattan Institute’s Mark P. Mills says, “Complying with regulations costs manufacturers an average of $20,000 per employee per year, twice as great a burden as for other businesses. For the smallest manufacturers (i.e., those with fewer than 50 employees), that annual cost is $35,000 per employee per year. In surveys, America’s manufacturers routinely rank regulatory burdens as the top impediment to growth; a large majority also say that regulatory burdens are higher in America than in other nations.” We’ve got the momentum; let’s capitalize on reform by going even further.

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