Regulatory Commissars

Cutting More Red Tape Will Aid Recovery

Trump signs an executive order to build on his solid record of deregulation.

Nate Jackson · May 20, 2020

President Donald Trump’s biggest accomplishments, in our view, are two stellar Supreme Court nominations, major tax cuts across the board, and a commitment to deregulation. Of the latter, the Wall Street Journal editorial board remarks, “The Trump Administration’s long parade of deregulation — on everything from Title IX, to net neutrality, to environmental-impact statements, to joint employers — is among its biggest achievements.”

Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, the Trump administration has worked to eliminate or waive regulations that hinder mitigation efforts. On Tuesday, the president made a significant move to continue this record. The Washington Times reports, “Mr. Trump signed an executive order, in his first Cabinet meeting since the crisis hit, that directs federal agencies to rapidly use all emergency and ‘good cause’ authorities to find red tape that can be rescinded or temporarily waived to promote job creation and economic growth. In addition to cutting regulations, the president’s order instructs Cabinet agencies to ‘consider exercising appropriate temporary enforcement discretion’ for the good of the recovery.”

Moreover, federal agencies should “determine which, if any,” of the 600 deregulatory actions taken during the pandemic “would promote economic recovery if made permanent.”

“Typically when our country has faced a crisis, Washington responds by grabbing more power,” said Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. “President Trump understands that to get the economy moving, the power needs to be given back to the people and entrepreneurs. If a bureaucratic rule needs to be suspended during a time of crisis to help the American people, we should ask ourselves if it makes sense to keep at all.”

Trump’s rationale is surely influenced by his own career as a businessman. “I want you to go to town and do it right,” he told members of his Cabinet. “It gives you tremendous power to cut regulation. We’re fighting for the livelihoods of American workers, and we must continue to cut through every piece of red tape that stands in our way.”

Many of the deregulation efforts are small in isolation. According to the Journal, they include: “Truck drivers hauling emergency supplies have more flexibility about hours on the road. Seniors on Medicare can consult doctors by iPhone. Colleges can ramp up distance learning without the usual red tape.”

But regulations are also a sort of “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Most regulations don’t result directly in job losses, but the accumulation of them means business owners are busier obeying government fiat than they are serving customers, making widgets, or hiring new workers. Regarding the reopening, as long as businesses “have attempted in reasonable good faith” to meet guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, the bureaucracy has been instructed to lay off. Small moves like that will also accumulate and make it easier for businesses to recover from the pandemic shutdown.

Trump concluded, “With millions of Americans forced out of work by the virus, it’s more important than ever to remove burdens that destroy American jobs.” Can we get an “amen”?

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