Competitive Enterprise Institute policy experts offered their first takes on the budget released today by President Trump, with a focus on regulatory reform, the Environmental Protection Agency, and transportation and infrastructure reforms.
Regulation - CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews expects the dramatic changes for regulatory policy will have a positive economic effect:
Regardless of who’s in power, the U.S. budget for fiscal year 2018 will be $4 trillion, but President Trump has proposed to shave $3.6 trillion off federal spending over the next 10 years and balance the budget in that time as well. As the budget process proceeds, it’s important to understand how budget and regulatory concerns are increasingly intertwined.
Although there’s criticism of President Trump for assuming a 3 percent economic growth in his first budget, his budget does recognize and incorporate anticipated savings from his regulatory reforms, rollbacks, and executive orders that could have a positive impact on our budgetary bottom line. The dramatic changes in the regulatory enterprise that we’re starting to see with President Trump will have an effect on economic growth statistics and that is what’s most unique about this budget.
CEI Vice President for Strategy Iain Murray is encouraged by reforms planned for financial regulation:
“The focus on reforming financial regulation is welcome. Preventing further taxpayer bailouts of financial institutions is vital for restoring confidence in the financial system. And ensuring that all financial regulators are properly accountable to all three branches of government is necessary to prevent further regulatory overreach of the sort that has led to millions of Americans living on the margins of the financial system.”
Energy - CEI agrees with President Trump that the federal government requires fundamental transformation to rein in rogue agencies. In terms of federal agencies and departments that are out of control, the EPA must be close to the top of the list, says Myron Ebell, Director of CEI’s Center on Energy and Environment:
President Trump’s FY 2018 budget requests to cut the EPA budget by 31 percent is a way of applying market discipline to a bloated bureaucracy. A 31 percent cut is a good target, although the specifics of the cuts should be carefully considered and revised if needed. If members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees want to increase spending on specific programs, they should justify it and find comparable savings in other programs.
Despite claims from environmental pressure groups that cutting the EPA’s budget will threaten environmental quality, the reality is that the EPA has more employees than it needs. Much of the EPA’s important work to protect our air and water has already been devolved to the states, meaning at the federal level, EPA is top heavy. Besides eliminating a number of programs that are not required by statute, the EPA’s ten regional offices could especially benefit from significant downsizing.
Transportation - On a set of three top transportation reform priorities – air traffic control, Interstate tolls, and infrastructure bonds - CEI senior fellow Marc Scribner indicates that the administration is getting it right.
The White House budget makes a number of strong recommendations on transportation policy. The administration deserves credit for embracing bipartisan reform proposals. These include converting the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Organization into a nonprofit corporation, reducing Interstate tolling restrictions, and modernizing private activity bonds by lifting the $15 billion lifetime cap and expanding project eligibility. It is now up to members of Congress to put aside their partisan differences and support these reforms that many of our peer countries have already adopted and have long been championed by informed members of both major U.S. political parties.