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Trump Reviews and Renews Regulatory Rollback Agenda

On December 14, President Trump outlined his administration’s deregulatory achievements to date and regulatory reform goals for 2018. He emphasized the importance of cutting red tape to his overall pro-growth economic agenda. (Due to technical difficulties, an official transcript of the president’s speech and supporting documents are not available on the White House Web site at this writing.)

Here are some highlights. In 1960, the Code of Federal Regulations had 20,000 pages. Today it has more than 185,000 pages. This “ever-growing maze of regulations, rules, and restrictions” has “cost our country trillions of dollars ... and millions of jobs.” Some regulations are valuable, and those should be retained. “But every unnecessary page in these stacks represents hidden taxes and harmful burdens to American workers and to American businesses. And in many cases means projects never get off the ground. That’s probably the biggest problem.”

Rollback has been rapid on his watch, Trump declared. “Within our first 11 months, we cancelled or delayed over 1,500 planned regulatory actions—more than any previous president by far.” Trump’s goal when taking office was to eliminate two old regulations for every new regulation. Instead, the administration has eliminated 22 old rules for every new rule adopted. For the “first time in decades,” the U.S. government is “reducing the size, scope, and cost of federal regulations.” Regulatory rollback contributed to the 85 record highs the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit this year, the creation of $5 trillion in new household wealth, economic growth topping 3 percent, the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, and the highest small business confidence index in 34 years, according to the President.

“And we are just getting started,” he proclaimed. Trump announced he is “challenging my cabinet to find and remove every single outdated, unlawful, and excessive regulation currently on the books” and “push even harder to cut even more regulations in 2018.”

When he took office, a company seeking to build a highway needed to obtain permission at 16 critical steps from nine different agencies under 29 different laws—a process taking 10 to 20 years or even longer. The president claimed his administration had already dramatically streamlined the permitting process. His goal is to have agencies approve or reject major infrastructure projects within one year.

Finally, he noted that “Congress has abandoned much of its responsibility to legislate and instead given unelected regulators extraordinary power to control the lives of others,” with the courts doing little or nothing to stop “this massive power grab.” The result is that “enormous regulatory burdens” are imposed on citizens “with no vote, no debate, and no accountability.” Although the president did not mention the REINS Act, those remarks suggest he will sign the legislation if Congress passes it.