This Saturday, April 29th, marks President Trump’s 100th day in office, which offers us the opportunity to reflect on what his administration has accomplished so far. CEI experts review Trump’s regulatory reform efforts and priorities for federal agencies, particularly in regards to energy and environment, labor, finance, and technology and telecom policies.
Wayne Crews on Trump’s regulatory reform efforts:
When it comes to confronting excessive federal regulation, the Trump administration has so far delivered on promises. White House efforts have focused on regulating bureaucrats rather than the private sector, issuing rules to limit their rules. During the campaign, Trump promised a regulatory freeze and to use the two rules out for every rule in regulatory framework. Right after inauguration, both were done, plus he added a directive that new regulatory costs imposed by agencies should not exceed “zero,” so the costs have to be fully offset. To date, President Trump has also signed 13 resolutions disapproving and rescinding last-minute Obama regulations. This means federal regulation has largely stopped in 2017, by greater than the 70 percent Trump originally promised, at least for the time being. This is exceptionally good news for consumers, businesses, and the economy, since in recent years, I’ve estimated the baseline for the U.S. federal regulatory burden at nearly $2 trillion annually, or $15,000 per household.
It is particularly heartening that the Trump administration has incorporated “regulatory dark matter,” the tens of thousands of documents federal agencies use to circumvent Congress and overstep their authority, into his reforms for the enormous and costly administrative state, including his regulatory freeze and the one-in-two-out requirement. Agency dark matter consists of all the memoranda, guidance, notices, bulletins and other proclamations—including threats and bad publicity—that bureaucrats use to create or influence policy. This runs contrary to the law, specifically the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. Even with all these actions from the executive branch, there is still one large barrier to regulatory reform that remains: the U.S. Senate. Trump’s economic liberalization agenda ultimately will require congressional action to codify the reforms he has requested.
Marlo Lewis on Trump’s energy and environment priorities:
On energy and climate policy, Trump has taken big steps to change the direction of the country. His March 28th executive order “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” reviews, reforms, or eliminates the Clean Power Plan and related rulemakings; the Obama administration’s Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon; the coal leasing moratorium on federal lands; restrictions on oil and gas exploration on federal lands; President Obama’s climate policy executive orders; and, “all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions…that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.”
In addition, Trump approved permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline, eliminated the Stream Protection Rule, directed the EPA to reexamine its de-facto fuel economy standards for new motor vehicles, and directed the EPA to review the Waters of the United States rule. All of these are steps in the right direction.
The one critical energy and climate issue on which Trump has not yet taken action is the Paris Climate Agreement. If President Trump fails to withdraw the U.S. from the treaty, domestic and foreign opponents of his energy policies, and possibly activist courts, can continue to invoke this “international commitment,” and any future U.S. administration will have free rein to pick up where President Obama’s energy policy left off.
Trey Kovas on Trump’s labor reform priorities:
Below is a quick recap of the good, the bad, and the ugly of what transpired during Trump’s first 100 days on labor and employment policy.
Good: At the end of March, President Trump signed a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to repeal what is known as the blacklisting rule. The rule, which derives from a 2014 Obama executive order, required contractors who bid on federal contracts over $500,000 to report alleged, as well as actual, labor violations, imposing significant costs and providing no quantifiable benefits.
Bad: The Trump administration has failed to take a stance against the Obama administration’s overtime rule, which raised the salary threshold for overtime eligible employees by 100 percent. The overtime rule was one of former President Obama’s most damaging regulations.
Ugly: Nearly all vacancies at the primary federal labor agencies have yet to be filled. To hasten the reversal of the misguided labor and employment regulatory action taken by the Obama administration, the Trump administration needed to quickly nominate and confirm key positions at the Department of Labor (DOL) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
John Berlau on Trump’s financial reform priorities:
President Trump is already compiling an excellent record of rescinding, delaying, and reviewing destructive financial regulations. He and Congress rescinded, through the Congressional Review Act, a costly Dodd-Frank rule on “resource extraction” documentation by energy firms that had nothing to do with the financial crisis. He is reviewing and delaying the Department of Labor’s “fiduciary rule,” which would limit options and access to investment guidance for middle-class savers. And he is attempting to stop the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s designation of nonbank financial firms as “systemically important,” which leads to both more bailouts and more regulation. His advisers’ call for reinstating the antiquated Glass-Steagall rules for separating commercial and investment banking are worrisome, but overall President Trump should be commended for his deregulatory record.
Ryan Radia on Trump’s technology and telecom reform priorities:
We salute President Trump for signing a Congressional Review Act resolution disapproving the FCC’s 2016 privacy rule. This regulation imposed uniquely rigid requirements on broadband providers, suppressing competition in the market for online advertising. We also look forward to the FCC, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai—who President Trump tapped to head the agency in January—working to undo the agency’s 2015 decision to regulate Internet service providers as public utilities under the 1934 Communications Act.
But much more work remains to be done to promote Internet freedom in this administration. The President should urge Congress to pass the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387), which would require a law enforcement official to obtain a warrant based upon probable cause before compelling a service provider to hand over the contents of a subscriber’s email or cloud storage account. And we hope this administration will take a close look at Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—which will expire in late 2017, absent congressional action—to curtail the government’s ability to obtain Americans’ private communications without a warrant by targeting foreign individuals who are in contact with U.S. persons.
From replacing key agency heads to overturning burdensome regulations, CEI released recommendations earlier this year that federal departments and agencies can pursue immediately to promote innovation, job creation, and financial freedom for all Americans. Read more about CEI’s free-market reform ideas for the Trump administration here.