Administration Slashes Federal Regulations at Record Rate

Economists point to the new regulatory climate in Washington as one of the key reasons behind the scenes for the U.S. economy’s resurgence. The extent to which the Trump administration has not only contained but cut federal regulations came into full view this week with the release of perhaps the most obscure, yet critical economic indicator most Americans never heard of.

It’s the Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions , a twice yearly update of all the regulations in the process of development by the federal government. Trump ran on a promise to cut twice as many regulations as his administration promulgated, but the Competitive Enterprise Institute says the results to date surpass the most optimistic expectations.

President Trump administration is making something of a show of the release of the Fall 2017 Edition’s deregulatory character.  Usually the Agenda appears with no mention whatever. This is, after all, the year of one-in, two-out for federal agency rulemaking, by way of Trump’s Executive Order 13771 on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.

The White House claims that goal was easily met, with a 22-to-1 out/in ratio, since only three new regulatory actions were imposed while 67 deregulatory actions were taken. Of these, 15 were Obama-era regulations eliminated by means of the Congressional Review Act, repeals signed into law by the president.

The new-under-the-sun message is “Agencies are now expected to regulate only when explicitly authorized by law.”

The number of federal regulations that have been removed, frozen or held up from going on the books jumps off the page.

The December regulatory Agenda has brought the tally up to 1,579 planned regulatory actions, withdrawn or delayed, broken down as follows:

  • 635 regulations were withdrawn.
  • 244 regulations were made inactive.
  • 700 regulations were delayed.

In anticipation of the Fall Agenda edition, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator Neomi Rao issued a September 17, 2017 memorandum to Regulatory Reform Officers at executive departments and agencies on “FY 2018 Regulatory Cost Allowances.” (Independent agencies get a pass, a major loophole in regulatory liberalization.)

But there’s more red tape where that comes from, according to the Washington Free Beacon coverage of the remarkable regulatory rollback.

The administration will be more ambitious next year, with Trump promising to get the Federal Register to 1960 levels. The Federal Register is 185,000 pages today, and was only 20,000 pages in 1960.

In fiscal year 2018, agencies and departments have committed to cutting $9.8 billion in lifetime costs for regulations, saving $686.6 million per year.

“We’re going to cut a ribbon because we’re getting back below the 1960 level,” Trump said, holding a pair of gold scissors. “And we’ll be back there fairly quickly.”