President Donald Trump has made much news over slowing down the flow of regulations in 2017, and over new promises to reduce even more red tape in 2018.
But the question has come up over which regulations, exactly, did he get rid of.
And of the ones that Trump added—were they expensive?
What has clearly happened is that the flow of new regulations has dropped greatly.
For starters, the Trump Administration withdrew or delayed 1,579 Obama rules that were in the pipeline but not yet finalized.
Perhaps needless to say is that, deep state notwithstanding, Trump’s own significant self-generated regulatory actions amount to a (relative) trickle. Trump’s total rule count is 3,258, but many of them were delays of President Obama’s rules (and even more of them the ever-present hundreds of FAA airworthiness directives and Coast Guard rules).
By December 27 last year (“today”), Obama had issued 3,794 rules. Of Obama’s rules, 479 were categorized as “significant.” For Trump, the “significant” subset is 198, again, with some among them constituting rollbacks. (The nomenclature is a mess; I’ve compiled the even costlier “economically significant” subset in play in the Trump administration here.)
Getting rid of already finalized rules is tougher. With respect to rules already in effect, recall Trump’s now famous order to eliminate two regulations for every one added.
This order didn’t apply to non-significant rules; nor to rules mandated by Congress as opposed to driven by agency discretion; nor even to any rules from the so-called “independent agencies” like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The administration added these three significant rules during 2017 (see OMB’s website or the linked Regulation Identifier Number for particulars)
- Department of Energy
Energy Conservations Standards for Walk-in Cooler and Freezer Refrigeration
Systems RIN: 1904-AD59
- Food and Drug Administration
FY 2018 Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled
Nursing Facilities (SNFs), SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program, SNF Quality
Reporting Program (CMS-1679-F) RIN: 0938-AS96
- Environmental Protection Agency
Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Dental Category RIN: 2040-AF26
But these needed to be offset to comply with Trump’s Executive Order 13771. So, in fulfilment, the administration says agencies have eliminated 67 rules. So, in other words, with the three significant rules added, the White House claims to have attained a ratio of 22-1 rather than merely 2-for-1. Those 66 rules appear at bottom (and, again, see the RIN numbers for details).
One could argue, incidentally, that the non-bound FCC’s elimination of the Obama-era net neutrality rule might be more important than anything else actually on the list.
The present value cost savings from these rule rollbacks is said to be $8 billion, or around $600 million on an annual basis. That’s important, remarkable, maybe unprecedented and even a little astounding, but not a gigantic dent in a regulatory state costing hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
When all is said and done, the pro-regulatory nature of the regulatory state cannot be said to have fundamentally changed; agencies like FCC, EPA and CFBP have done insincere about-faces with the arrival of Trump; such phenomena are transitory.
Next year’s cost savings are expected to be $10 billion in present value terms, or $700 million annualized. Good, but Congress (or the states) will need to act for larger cuts to the regulatory “hidden tax.”
In an important "System Upgrade" to the regulations database by Trump’s OMB, rules and regulations are now systematically identified as "net regulatory or deregulatory."
If this becomes incorporated into the Federal Register presentation and elsewhere in all forms of agency disclosure, this change could make a huge difference; it may be even more important than the particular cuts completed so far, because even hostile agencies of the future would be hard-pressed to stop reporting such distinctions. And their never implementing regulatory relief would become obvious over time.
For next rabbit out of the hat, Trump should issue a strong new executive order explicitly addressing regulatory guidance, or “regulatory dark matter.” When agencies are discouraged from issuing rules, they may rely increasingly heavily on such “sub-regulatory” guidance and thwart the spirit of reform. More on all this later, but it is within the power of the president to disclose, eliminate, better classify, and streamline guidance; and to hold accountable those issuing it to excess.
Below, please find the list of Trump’s 67 completed regulatory eliminations or reductions. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior have the most, at 16 and 12, respectively. Note that, among the 67, nine appear to be revocations or alterations of sub-regulatory guidance or orders. While guidance need reform, Trump is clearly on to it.
Regulatory Reform: Completed Actions Fiscal Year 2017
This chart excerpts executive branch agency E.O 13771 deregulatory actions completed in Fiscal Year 2017. (See original at OMB.)
Department of Agriculture (5)
- Importation of Bone-in Ovine Meat from Uruguay RIN: 0579-AE21
- Importation of Fresh Persimmon with Calyxes from Japan into the U.S. RIN: 0579-AE27
- Importation of Fresh Pitahaya Fruit from Ecuador into the Continental U.S. RIN: 0579-AE12
- Importation of Hass Avocados from Colombia RIN: 0579-AE29
- Republic of Korea Orchids Imported in Growing Media RIN: 0579-AE24
Department of Commerce (7)
- Capital Construction Fund; Fishing Vessel Capital Construction Fund Procedures RIN: 0648-AW57
- Framework Action to Modify Commercial Permit Restrictions for King and Spanish Mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Federal Waters RIN: 0648-BG56
- Framework Amendment to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan; Change to Pacific Mackerel Management Cycle From an Annual to Biennial Specification Schedule RIN: 0648-BF96
- Regulatory Omnibus Framework Adjustment to Modify Reporting Requirements for Electronic Vessel Trip Reports by Federally-Permitted For-Hire Vessels and Operators in the Mid-Atlantic Region RIN: 0648-BG60
- Repeal of Regulations Governing the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program RIN: 0660-AA34
- Timing of Accountability Measure-Based Closures Amendment RIN: 0648-BG29
- Withdrawal of Proposed Rule for Protected Species Hard Caps for the California/Oregon Large-Mesh Drift Gillnet Fishery RIN: 0648-BG23
Department of Health and Human Services (7)
- Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; Extension of Compliance Date; Request for Comments RIN: 0910-AG57
- FDA De Novo Classifications
- Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Certification Program guidance
- Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the LongTerm Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2018 Rates (CMS-1677-F) RIN: 0938-AS98
- FDA Medical Device Notices
- FY 2018 Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) Prospective Payment System (CMS-1671F) RIN: 0938-AS99
- Changes to the Medicaid Eligibility Quality Control and Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM) Programs in Response to the Affordable Care Act (CMS-6068-F) RIN: 0938-AS74
Department of Homeland Security (4)
- Equivalency Determination for ‘‘Marine Charts,’’ ‘‘Charts,’’ or ‘‘Maps,’’ ‘‘Publications,’’ and Navigation Functions—Notice of Availability of Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 01–16 Change 1
- Exercise of Time-Limited Authority To Increase the Fiscal Year 2017 Numerical Limitation for the H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program RIN: 1615-AC12
- Hazard Mitigation Assistance Acquisition Projects: Hydraulic Fracturing and Horizontal Directional Drilling FEMA Policy 302-094-03
- Jones Act Ruling Rescission
Department of Interior (12)
- Effectuating Congressional Nullification of the Stream Protection Rule under the Congressional Review Act RIN: 1029-AC63
- Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reinstatement of Removal of the Gray Wolf in Wyoming from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife RIN: 1018-BC04
- Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife RIN: 1018-BA41
- Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Hualapai Mexican Vole From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife RIN: 1018-AX99
- Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Scarlet-Chested Parakeet and Turquoise Parakeet From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife RIN: 1018-BB29
- Migratory Bird Permits; Control Order for Introduced Migratory Bird Species in Hawaii (Cattle Egrets and Barn Owls) RIN: 1018-AZ69
- Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife and Public Participation and Closure Procedures on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska RIN: 1018-BA31
- Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf—Lease Continuation Through Operations RIN: 1014-AA35
- Order No. 3346 "Revocation of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Director's Order No. 219 (Use of Nontoxic Ammunition and Fishing Tackle)"
- Repeal of Consolidated Federal Oil & Gas and Federal & Indian Coal Valuation Reform Rule RIN: 1012-AA20
- Subsistence Handicrafts RIN: 1018-BB24
- OMB Control No. 1018-0101, Monitoring Recovered Species After Delisting—American Peregrine Falcon
Department of Labor (7)
- Clarification of Employer's Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness (Volks) RIN: 1218-AC84
- Definition of Fiduciary - Delay of Applicability Date RIN: 1210-AB79
- Exercise of Time-Limited Authority to Increase the FY 2017 Numerical Limitation for the H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program RIN: 1205-AB84
- Federal-State Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 Provision on Establishing Appropriate Occupations for Drug Testing of Unemployment Compensation Applicants RIN: 1205-AB63
- Guidance for Executive Order 13673, "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces" RIN: 1290-ZA02
- Savings Arrangements Established by Qualified State Political Subdivisions for Non-Governmental Employees RIN: 1210-AB76
- Savings Arrangements Established by States for Non-Governmental Employees RIN: 1210-AB71
Department of the Treasury (4)
- Dividend Equivalents from Sources within the United States RIN: 1545-BN76
- IRS Notice 2017-36, One Year Delay in Application of IRS’ 385 rule (§ 1.385-2)
- Transactions Involving the Transfer of No Net Value. RIN: 1545-BI18
- Withholding on Payments of Certain Gambling Winnings. RIN: 1545-BN58
Department of Transportation (2)
- Add New Electrical Safety Requirements during Normal Vehicle Use and Optional Post Crash Requirements to FMVSS No. 305 RIN: 2127-AL68
- Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform RIN: 2125-AF75
Department of Veterans Affairs (1)
- Fisher House and Other Temporary Lodging. RIN: 2900-AP45
Environmental Protection Agency (16)
- Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act; Further Delay of Effective Date RIN: 2050-AG91
- Amendment to Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries under CERCLA RIN: 2050-AG94
- Certification of Pesticide Applicators; Delay of Effective Date RIN: 2070-AK38
- Clean Water Act Methods Update Rule for the Analysis of Effluent RIN: 2040-AF48
- Compliance Date Extension; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products RIN: 2070-AK35
- Chemical Substances When Manufactured or Processed as Nanoscale Materials; TSCA Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements RIN: 2070-AK39
- Labeling Relief; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products RIN: 2070-AK30
- Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Electronic Reporting Requirements RIN: 2060-AS75
- Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources; Grant of Reconsideration and Partial Stay RIN: 2060-AT63
- Technical Amendments to Procedure 6 RIN: 2060-AS86
- Phosphoric Acid Manufacturing and Phosphate Fertilizer Production Risk and Technology Review Reconsideration RIN: 2060-AT14
- Postponement of Certain Compliance Dates for Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category RIN: 2040-AF76
- Revisions to Procedure 2—Quality Assurance Requirements for Particulate Matter Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems at Stationary Sources RIN: 2060-AT15
- Approval of Tennessee’s Request To Relax the Federal Reid Vapor Pressure Gasoline Volatility Standard for Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson Counties; and Minor Technical Corrections for Federal Reid Vapor Pressure Gasoline Volatility Standards in Other Areas RIN: 2060-AT32
- Stay of Standards of Performance for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills and Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for MSW Landfills. RIN: 2060-AT62
- OMB Control No. 2060-0705, Withdrawal of the 2016 Information Collection Effort for Oil and Gas Facilities
Federal Acquisition Regulation (1)
- Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR); FAR Case 2017-015, Removal of Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule RIN: 9000-AN52
Small Business Administration (1)
- Miscellaneous Amendments to Business Loan Programs and Surety Bond Guarantee Program. RIN: 3245-AF85