Rookie of the Year

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, James Freeman cites Wayne Crews’ tally of Federal Register pages.

Donald Trump is not the most dignified man to occupy the Oval Office, but it’s hard to argue with the results of his rookie year. 2017 has been an exceptional year for liberty in the United States, and especially for economic liberty.

The largest rate cut in the history of the U.S. corporate income tax, along with individual tax cuts up and down the income scale, arrive on top of a year-long effort to reduce America’s regulatory burden.

On Friday Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute tallied the results on this the final federal workday of the year. Mr. Crews counts 61,950 pages of new and proposed rules in the Federal Register as of this morning. The results are nothing less than historic:

This is the lowest count since 1993’s 61,166 pages. That was Bill Clinton’s first year, and his own lowest-ever count.

A year ago, Obama set the all-time Federal Register page record with 95,894 pages.

Trump’s Federal Register is a 35 percent drop from Obama’s record, set last year.

Page counts are one measure of red tape, but what about the new directives from Washington described in those pages? Mr. Crews adds that there has been “a major reduction in the number of rules and regulations under Trump. Today the Federal Register closed out with 3,281 final rules within its pages. This is the lowest count since records began being kept in the mid-1970s.”

What’s especially encouraging is that many of the new rules are simply rolling back earlier government-imposed burdens rather than creating new ones. A recent Journal editorial explains:

Ten days after his inauguration, Mr. Trump issued an executive order directing his departments to scour the books for rules they could rescind or repeal without damaging the law. He also directed that for each single regulation issued, agencies should identify at least two for elimination. In one his best appointments, he named Neomi Rao to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs that must clear new rules. 

The results have been impressive. Ms. Rao reported this month that through Sept. 30 the Trump Administration had taken 67 deregulatory actions but only three new significant regulatory actions. That’s a 22 to 1 ratio. She also reported that since fall 2016 more than 1,500 planned regulatory actions have been withdrawn or delayed.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.