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Cass R. Sunstein

Trump Did Something Good This Week

A new White House order should clear some barriers to badly needed infrastructure improvements.
It's gotten too hard to build things.

It's gotten too hard to build things.

Photographer: Horace Abrahams/Getty Images

Obscured by the tumult surrounding President Donald Trump’s horrendous response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the White House managed to take a significant positive step this week: issuing an executive order designed to lower regulatory barriers to infrastructure projects, and to speed up and simplify the process for obtaining necessary permits and clearances.

It wasn’t the first White House to try. When I worked there in 2009, I called a meeting of agency officials, asking them to explore how we might streamline the permitting process for both individuals and companies. About halfway into the one-hour meeting, I realized that none of the officials had offered even a single word in response to my question. Instead, they explained why nothing could be done -- as if the purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate that the status quo was great, and that it would be impossible to change it.