Candidates’ perennial promises to cut regulations rarely pan out discusses ways that the next administration can push for regulatory reform with Wayne Crews. 

Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews says the next White House occupant does wield enough regulation-slashing power to make a difference, and so does Congress

“When Ronald Reagan came in, federal regulations were around 7,500 a year and the number of pages in the Federal Register were 72,000,” Crews told “During his presidency, he cut federal register pages down to 45,000 and numbers of regulations to the 4,500 level. It wasn’t a 70 percent reduction, but close to 40 percent in terms of those measures.”

The key to substantial regulatory reform is the approach, Crews said, because regulations fall into two categories — regulations that already exist, and regulations yet to come. The president will have a tougher time with rules already on the books because they started with Congress.

For existing regulations, Crews recommends sunset laws, beefed-up reviews and a commission such as that called for in the proposed Regulatory Improvement Act. Similar to the Base Realignment Commission, the Act would create a bipartisan panel to weed out federal regulations that are duplicative, unnecessary or excessive.

As for future regulations, Congress already has the Congressional Review Act at its disposal, which allows the legislative branch to quickly review and overrule federal agency regulations. It’s rarely used, however, requiring presidential approval — a mostly unattainable ambition as we saw this year when Congress tried to stop the National Labor Relations Board from enacting its rule to speed up union elections.

According to Crews, one reason the law goes unused is too little pressure. “We don’t hold Congress’ feet to the fire. Congress could already stop this stuff or raise a protest, but just doesn’t do it.”

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