Political Editors / April 20, 2018

Trump Oversees Biggest Cuts to Regs in Quarter-Century

Trump has been aggressive in cutting red tape, but for the benefits to last Congress must act.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has released its Ten Thousand Commandments, an annual report on the scope, size and cost of federal regulations. Those regulations amount to a “hidden tax” on Americans, as well as a severe limit on Liberty. The good news is that President Donald Trump has followed through on his campaign promise to cut federal regulations, and his initial efforts have produced the most significant cutting of government red tape in more than 25 years. Here are some of the highlights thus far per the CEI:

  • Federal regulations and intervention cost Americans $1.9 trillion in 2017.
  • Federal regulation is a hidden tax that amounts to nearly $15,000 per U.S. household each year, more than Americans spend on any category in their family budget except for housing.
  • In 2017, 97 laws were enacted by Congress during the calendar year, while 3,281 rules were issued by agencies. Thus, 34 rules were issued for every law enacted.
  • If it were a country, U.S. federal regulation would be the world’s eighth-largest economy, ranking behind India and ahead of Italy.
  • Many Americans are concerned about their annual tax burden, but total regulatory costs exceeded the $1.88 trillion the IRS collected in both individual and corporate income taxes in 2017.
  • Some 67 federal departments, agencies, and commissions are currently working on 3,209 new regulations in various stages of development.
  • The five most active rulemaking entities — the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Transportation, Treasury, and the Environmental Protection Agency — account for 1,359 rules, or 43 percent of all proposed regulations currently under consideration.
  • The 2017 Federal Register contained 61,308 pages, the lowest count since 1993 and a 36 percent drop from Obama’s 95,894 pages in 2016, the highest level ever recorded.

Clearly Trump is off to a good start, but as Wayne Crews, CEI’s vice president for policy, says, “There are warning signs.” Crews explains, “President Trump’s own apparent affinity for strong antitrust enforcement and protectionist trade policies threaten to undermine the economic gains from his regulatory reform efforts.” However, the greatest factor in controlling government regulations lies largely with the Congress, as the legislative branch ultimately has the most authority and responsibility to make the rules. Congress did use the Congressional Review Act to eliminate 15 onerous Obama-era rules in 2017, but Congress has in recent years and in certain areas delegated too much of its authority to non-elected federal bureaucrats.

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