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The Deregulator?

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Reason discusses the Trump presidency in terms of deregulation with Myron Ebell.

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Below the headline-generating clatter of travel bans, wiretap disputes, Russia revelations, and Obamacare reboots, a parallel story is emerging: Washington's regulatory reformers, largely sidelined for the past quarter-century, are infiltrating the halls of federal power and attempting to engineer the most ambitious executive-branch overhaul in at least three decades.

On the day of Trump's joint address, I paid a visit to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian nonprofit focusing on regulatory issues, to speak with Myron Ebell, director of the institute's Center for Energy and Environment. Ebell had been the Trump transition team's point man at the EPA, a personnel selection witheringly characterized by former League of Conservation Voters official Daniel Weiss as "like picking Colonel Sanders to protect your chickens." So what can libertarians expect from the Trump administration? "I think," Ebell says, "he could be the most serious deregulatory president ever."

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It's true that Donald Trump has called for taking a machete to regulatory agencies' budgets, beginning with the EPA. It is also true that presidents don't pass budgets—legislatures do—and that it's been two decades since Congress managed to pass the 12 annual appropriations bills that the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires. At a time when lawmakers of both parties have become addicted to last-minute, gargantuan up-or-down spending bills that almost no one reads in full, the president is asking the most politically sensitive branch of government to approve the deepest funding and staffing cuts the EPA has ever seen, all while surviving an onslaught of headlines such as the San Francisco Chronicle's "Trump budget would make America dirty and sick again."

"Now, is Congress going to go along with that?" CEI's Ebell asks of the cuts the president is requesting. "Well, no."

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Even the most bullish among advocates of limited government will readily acknowledge that this unorthodox presidency could quickly go south for libertarians. "My feeling about Trump on energy, environment, and climate issues is that if he keeps all of his promises, if he even keeps 80 percent of his promises, this will be the biggest change-direction we've ever had in the way of getting rid of the administrative state," says CEI's Ebell. "Now, if he keeps his promises on some other issues, like trade, you know, I'm scared to death."

Read the full article at Reason.