On the campaign trail, Donald Trump made a lot of promises, and while some of them, like the Big, Beautiful Wall, have thus far proven elusive, he’s managed to keep several that aren’t getting much airtime in the unprecedentedly negative coverage of him. One thing he’s doing quite well at following through on is his promise to get the government out of the way of businesses. In fact, he’s doing it better than any president going back to Jimmy Carter — and, yes, that includes Ronald Reagan.
Peter Boyer at The Weekly Standard provides an analysis of just how well Trump is doing on slashing “job-killing red tape all across our economy,” as Trump put it in a speech a few weeks ago. “We have stopped or eliminated more regulations in the last eight months than any president has done during an entire term. It’s not even close,” said Trump — and as Boyer highlights, the president appears to have that fact about right.
The Mercatus Center’s Patrick McLaughlin, Boyer explains, studied the the total “output of regulatory restrictions promulgated in the last several presidencies, going back to Jimmy Carter,” and found that Trump had managed to make the net increase of regulatory restrictions “zero.” No other president managed to get through their full term without raising the number of regulatory restrictions, including Reagan.
Boyer provides a summary of Trump’s actions so far that appear to be making some significant inroads on the notoriously difficult process of eliminating government regulations, the most impactful of which has been Trump’s Executive Order 13771, which requires that any new regulation by any agency must be balanced by the elimination of two outdated, ineffective, or overly costly regulations:
It was a clever ploy; the process of combing through old regulations is a time-consuming burden, as is the companion Trump order that the cost to the economy of any new regulation must be offset by savings from canceled regulations. Together, the effect has been to greatly delay new regulations. The government keeps track of the regulatory pace of its agencies through a semi-annual report called the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, and one White House official who has reviewed the autumn edition says that new regulatory output is effectively nil.
The Trump administration has managed to rein in the infamously regulation-prone EPA by largely shutting down its anti-democratic “sue-and-settle” practice, which was abused by “sympathetic” administrators to bypass the regulatory process by settling with activist groups — a practice the Obama administration particularly loved.
Meanwhile, Trump has used executive action to, as Democratic Sen.Chuck Schumer put it, take a “wrecking ball” to Obamacare by deregulating some key aspects of it and opening up competition among insurers.
So while Trump’s sometimes regrettable tweets might be dominating the headlines, thus far, he’s quietly overseeing the most conservative administration in terms of regulatory policy in recent history.