Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Trump Claims Dramatic Slow-Down Issuing Government Regulations

  • Report says costs have been reduced, is silent on benefits
  • Administration has blocked safety rules desired by industry

The Trump administration says it’s shelved some 860 federal regulations over its first six months in office and dramatically slowed new rules as part of the president’s push to reduce the role government plays in the economy.

In a new report to be released Thursday morning, the administration says the number of economically significant regulations have been halved since 2016, and there has been a 40 percent drop in the creation of other rules that would have a significant impact. While former President Barack Obama imposed regulations with $6.8 billion in costs during the last five months he was in office, the White House says it has reduced costs imposed by government rules.

Regulations are typically measured by their benefits to society -- such as reductions of deaths -- in addition to their economic costs. The Office of Management and Budget provided no estimate of benefits lost by the regulatory slowdown in a synopsis of the report released Wednesday evening.

“Government is using muscles it hasn’t used in a really long time, exposing and removing redundant and unnecessary regulation,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement.

The release of the report renews questions about whether President Donald Trump’s deregulation push is doing more harm than good. Some critics say Trump has held up valid regulations, including safety rules desired by industries.

Safety Rules

Under the umbrella of transportation agencies regulating aviation, automobiles, rail and highways, of the 43 proposed rules subject to review under an executive order Trump issued at the beginning of his presidency, 34 of them -- or 79 percent -- are intended to improve safety, according to a Bloomberg review.

Trump, speaking Wednesday at an event to promote products made in the U.S., said he hoped to accelerate the pace of deregulation in the coming months.

“What’s happening, step by step, we’ve gotten rid of regulations, and a lot more are coming,” Trump said. “We have some statutory requirements where we’re not allowed to do it until certain dates, but they’re coming as fast as those dates come we’ve opened it up, and it’s made a big difference for the farmer, home builder, for so many.”

Critics also say Trump’s administration has skirted the normal rule-making process by allowing his department heads to simply delay, for long periods, any rules they don’t like.

Moreover, the reduced pace of regulations under the Trump administration may not be entirely deliberate. 

The slow pace of appointments by the White House has left many agencies without top-level political appointees who traditionally manage the regulatory process. And the administration is comparing its opening months -- as officials first get their footing -- to the final days of the Obama White House, when his administration openly acknowledged it was engaged in a mad dash to finish new rules before the hand-off to a new president.

Trump Impact

Neomi Rao, administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, argues the White House effort is "reducing the overall regulatory burden on the American people."

"It fulfills longstanding principles to review and revise existing regulations to eliminate regulations that are ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete," she said in a statement.

For Trump, who has seen his push to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare law stymied on Capitol Hill and little tangible progress on his tax overhaul and infrastructure plans, deregulation has offered a rare opportunity to make a direct policy impact.

The president has signed multiple bills rolling back Obama-era rules governing energy companies, and ordered reviews of efforts by the prior administration to restrict greenhouse gas pollution and protect wetlands and waterways. The administration also delayed a rule requiring restaurants to disclose calories on menus, and reversed rules preventing debt collectors from charging high interest rates on overdue student loans.

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