According to the administration, agencies issued 61 “significant deregulatory actions,” and 35 significant regulatory ones, for a ratio of 1.7 to 1.
Close to one-in, two-out, but not quite. OK, a cigar if we round up; why not.
As it happens, the fall 2019 Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions appeared in late November. Tardy again—the 2018 fall edition had been the first to arrive on schedule in October since 2005. In prior Trump years, the releases of the Agenda and this year-end brag sheet were simultaneous.
I took a look at the Agenda in some detail here, and it showed that, given agency plans and the rule completions in the past (roughly) six-month scope, the (in)famous one-in, two-out requirement for regulations initiated in Executive Order 13771 was not technically met and in some trouble. The new final accounting bears this out. Of course the Agenda doesn’t cover the entire fiscal year. Back in the spring edition, I’d found that two-for-one was still on track but less healthy than in 2018 and 2017, so there was a chance for the entire year to catch up and “comply.”
Back in FY2017, much fanfare was made over the elimination of 67 significant rules while adding only three for a claimed (and challenged) 22-to-1 ratio. Detail on what rules came and went back then is here. The fall Unified Agenda at that time revealed a more modest but successful four-to-one ratio, but on the other hand there had been streamlining of guidance documents and independent agency rules that the administration could have taken credit for back then in its accounting, but did not.
In the subsequent fiscal year-end 2018 update (that is, a year ago) 57 significant deregulatory actions and 14 significant regulatory actions were completed for a ratio of four to one.
Earlier this year, diving into the spring 2019 Unified Agenda with the fiscal year still a work-in-progress, I found the administration technically still exceeding, but barely, the two-for-one directive with a 2.2-to-one ratio, with 15 rules in and 33 out at the time. I assembled interim details on what the rules were here.
Here’s a summary comparing year-end 2017, 2018 and 2019.
I’m not engaging the debate over whether the cuts in regs are highly significant or overblown here; for that you can see my take up to this point in the 2019 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments. I’m also not addressing the warning signs of Trump’s own regulatory impulses capable of swamping his regulatory savings.
In any event, the leading edge of the one-in, two-out is the capping of spending rather than the ratio of cuts to addition. In the new accounting for 2019, the administration claims to have eliminated $13.5 billion in overall regulatory costs across the government, and over $50 billion in overall regulatory costs since 2017. Using different methodologies, the Council of Economic Advisers estimates far more.
Criticisms notwithstanding, other presidents have not implemented a program as ambitious as Trump’s.
We know the generation of new regulations has dropped significantly under Trump. But in terms of rollbacks, we stressed early on that it would become harder to pick the “significant regulatory action” fruit over time capable of generating rapid rule and cost rollbacks. Major regulations like the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States entail years of public consultation, writing, and legal challenges.
Note also that E.O. 13771 did not apply to non-significant rules (although in the updates and in the modern Unified Agenda, the officially “Deregulatory” actions among these are nonetheless identified); nor to rules mandated by Congress as opposed to ones driven by agency discretion; nor to rules from the so-called independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
These gaps are one reason a new executive order on agency guidance document disclosure and streamlining was needed and fortunately enacted. It is readily within the power of the president to further disclose, eliminate, better classify, and streamline guidance as well as formal rules; and to hold accountable agencies that abuse guidance.
So, for the record at year-end FY2019, here is the inventory of the significant regulatory actions eliminated by the Trump administration broken down by agency. The total I gather from the administration’s detailed chart is 59, not 61; but perhaps that’s because a few rules were joint agency actions according to the footnotes. On any of the below, see the Office of Management and Budget’s website or look up the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) for particulars.
Later, I might take a look at the 35 significant regulatory actions added during fiscal year 2019 broken down by agency and also analyze the nature of these cuts in more depth.
Regulatory Reform: Completed Significant Deregulatory Actions Fiscal Year 2018
(This table excerpts executive branch agency E.O 13771 significant deregulatory actions completed in fiscal year 2019. See original at the Office of Management and Budget.
Department of Agriculture (5)
- RIN:0579-AC98* Plant Pest Regulations; Update of General Provisions
- RIN:0579-AC92* Scrapie in Sheep and Goats
- RIN:0584-AE54* SNAP: Eligibility, Certification and Employment and Training Provisions of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008
- RIN:0584-AE53* Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements
- RIN:0581-AD54* National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard
Department of Defense (2)
- RIN:0750-AJ42* Submission of Summary Subcontract Report (DFARS Case 2017-D005)
- RIN:0702-AA80* Army Cemeteries
Department of Education (2)
- RIN:1840-AD26* Institutional Accountability
- RIN:1840-AD31* Program Integrity; Gainful Employment
Department of Energy (2)
- RIN:1904-AE23* Energy Conservation Standards: External Power Supplies
- RIN:1904-AE26* Definition for General Service Lamps
Department of Health and Human Services (11)
- RIN:0910-AH93* Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption, Extension of Compliance Dates for Subpart E
- RIN:0936-AA07* Medicaid, Revisions to State Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Rules
- RIN:0938-AT23* Regulatory Provisions to Promote Program Efficiency, Transparency, and Burden Reduction (CMS-3346-F)
- RIN:0938-AT29* CY 2019 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update and CY 2020 Case-Mix Adjustment Methodology Refinements; Value-Based Purchasing Model; Quality Reporting Requirements (CMS-1689-FC)
- RIN:0938-AT59* Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs for Contract Year 2020; Risk Adjustment Data Validation (CMS-4185-F2)
- RIN:0938-AT30* CY 2019 Hospital Outpatient PPS Policy Changes and Payment Rates and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System Policy Changes and Payment Rates (CMS-1695-FC)
- RIN:0938-AT31* CY 2019 Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Medicare Part B and the Quality Payment Program (CMS1693-F)
- RIN:0938-AT45* Medicare Shared Savings Program; Accountable Care Organizations (CMS-1701-F2)
- RIN:0938-AR60* Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Update (CMS-4168-F)
- RIN:0938-AT37* CY 2020 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (CMS-9926-P)
- RIN:0938-AT71* FY 2020 Hospice Wage Index, Payment Rate Update, and Quality Reporting Requirements (CMS-1714-P)
Department of Homeland Security (4)
- RIN:1625-AA12* Marine Transportation–Related Facility Response Plans for Hazardous Substances
- RIN:1625-AA13* Tank Vessel Response Plans for Hazardous Substances
- RIN:1615-AC38* Exercise of Time-Limited Authority to Increase the Fiscal Year 2019 Numerical Limitation for the H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program
- RIN:1615-AB71* Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap Subject Aliens
Department of Housing and Urban Development (2)
- RIN:2502-AJ30* Project Approval for Single Family Condominium (FR-5715)
- RIN:2502-AJ40* Streamlining Warranty Requirements for FHA Single Family Mortgage Insurance: Removal of the Ten-Year Protection Plan Requirements (FR-6029)
Department of the Interior (4)
- RIN:1014-AA39* Revisions to the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule
- RIN:1018-BC87* Conservation of Endangered and Threatened Species; Revision of Regulations to Address Interagency Cooperation
- RIN:1018-BC88* Endangered and Threatened Species of Wildlife and Plants; Revision of the Regulations for Listing Species and Designating Critical Habitat
- RIN:1018-BC97* Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Prohibitions toThreatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of Blanket Section 4(d) Rule
Department of Labor (8)
- RIN:1218-AC67* Standards Improvement Project IV
- RIN:1218-AD17* Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
- RIN:1218-AC94* Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol: Amendment to the Final Rule on Respiratory Protection
- RIN:1218-AD21* Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyard Sectors
- RIN:1235-AA20* Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees
- RIN:1205-AB90* Modernizing Recruitment Requirements Under the H-2A Program
- RIN:1218-AC96* Crane Operator Qualification in Construction
- RIN:1210-AB88* Definition of an “Employer” Under Section 3(5) of ERISA–Association Retirement Plans and Other Multiple Employer Plans
Department of Transportation (8)
- RIN:2120-AJ69* Prohibition Against Certain Flights Within the Territory and Airspace of Afghanistan
- RIN:2120-AL16* Revision of ADS-B Out Requirements
- RIN:2127-AL76* The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks
- RIN:2130-AC46* Passenger Equipment Safety Standards Amendments
- RIN:2137-AE93* Pipeline Safety: Issues Related to the Use of Plastic Pipe in Gas Pipeline Industry
- RIN:2127-AL94* 49 CFR Part 578, Civil Penalties
- RIN:2127-AK86* Mandatory Event Data Recorder Requirements
- RIN:2130-AC48* Train Crew Staffing and Location
Department of the Treasury (3)
- RIN:1545-BG07* Allocation of Costs Under the Simplified Methods
- RIN:1505-AC55* Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund Amendment
- RIN:1545-BO46*7 Application of Various Provisions of Section 2711 of the Public Health Service Act, the Affordable Care Act, and the Internal Revenue Code to Health
Department of Veterans Affairs (1)
- RIN:2900-AQ26* VA Claims and Appeals Modernization
Environmental Protection Agency (4)
- RIN:2050-AG39* Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals
- RIN:2040-AF25* National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES): Specific Provisions Affecting Application and Program Updates Rule
- RIN:2050-AH02* Facilitating Safe Management of Recalled Airbags
- RIN:2060-AU33* Adopting Subpart Ba Requirements in Emission Guidelines for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills
Federal Acquisition Regulation (1)
- RIN:9000-AN45* Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR); FAR Case 2017-009, Special Emergency Procurement Authority
Office of Personnel Management (1)
- RIN:3206-AN58* Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program: Extension of Eligibility to Certain TRICARE-Eligible Individuals; Effective Date of Enrollment
Small Business Administration (1)
- RIN:3245-AG64* Small Business Innovation Research Program and Small Business Technology Transfer Program Policy Directive
The residual deregulatory actions classified as non-significant also appear in the Final Accounting for Fiscal Year 2019.
The 2019 update on the two-for-one represents the declining marginal returns of regulatory streamlining by one-in, two-out. But this project is all administration-driven. As I’ve noted before, when all is said and done, the pro-regulatory impulses of the permanent administrative state cannot be said to have fundamentally changed. While even independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have made about-faces with the arrival of Trump, that is likely temporary. Congress (or the states) will need to act for greater cuts to the regulatory hidden tax, although executive orders may have certain permanent effects. New executive orders most likely to have sticking power would be those emphasizing disclosure and reporting, such as the upgrade to the Office of Management and Budget regulations database that now identifies rules as regulatory or deregulatory.