CEI’s free market policy agenda for the incoming Trump administration is aimed at strengthening the economy and removing barriers to economic freedom in five key policy areas: regulatory reform, energy and environment, labor, finance, and technology and innovation. From replacing key agency heads to overturning burdensome regulations, CEI recommends several actions federal departments and agencies can pursue immediately to promote innovation, job creation, and financial freedom for all Americans. 

Many of our nation’s laws give broad discretion to federal regulators to force sweeping change over vast swaths of the American economy. Over the last 15 years, we have seen fundamental overhauls of major economic sectors: the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley financial services “reform” law, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, and restrictions on affordable energy sources. For those Americans who are struggling financially, the need for regulatory reform has never been greater. Instead of chipping away at the margins, CEI believes we need substantial reforms that rein in federal bureaucrats so that our economy, and ultimately American consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs, can benefit and make real progress toward prosperity.

Rein in America’s Regulatory State

President-elect Donald Trump instructed his transition team to “develop a list of executive actions we can take on day one to restore our laws and bring back our jobs.” But, if a Trump administration is to reform the regulatory state, it is not enough to analyze rules better and to cut only a few. Rather, statutes should be revisited, and whole agencies downsized and eliminated. Reviving the American economy will require swift action to rein in an unelected administrative state that is holding back innovation in energy, communications, autonomous cars and aircraft, robotics, and frontier economic sectors.

While every year Congress passes just a few dozen laws, federal regulatory agencies issue more than 3,000 regulations—but lawmaking by the unelected does not end there. Agencies also issue thousands of guidance documents, interpretive bulletins, notices, memoranda, proclamations, and even blog posts that carry regulatory force, but do not go through the formal rulemaking process. Trump should insist upon congressional affirmation of rules, guidance, and other agency proclamations likely to have significant economic impact, or that are otherwise controversial. 

Unfortunately, the current watchdog gives the regulatory state little to fear. The White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviews only a fraction of rules and often misses deadlines. That could change if Trump makes the most of his promised regulatory moratorium and toughens review and analysis of regulations. Trump could boost audits and cost analysis dramatically via executive order and work with Congress to bring now-exempt independent agencies into the fold. The following are three actions President-elect Trump should take to rein in America’s regulatory state.


  • Strengthen Regulatory Oversight by Executive Order
  • Expand Executive Restrictions over Agency Guidance Documents, Memoranda and other “Regulatory Dark Matter”
  • Work with Congress to Implement a Pro-Growth Agenda

​Read more about CEI’s regulatory reform recommendations here.

Champion Affordable Energy

While President-elect Donald Trump will need legislative approval by Congress to accomplish parts of his economic policy agenda, he can also implement several critical initiatives on his sole authority as chief executive. Increasing the affordability of both U.S. and global energy is an important economic and humanitarian objective and should be at the top of the list.

Thanks to affordable energy, the average person today lives a longer and healthier life, travels farther and faster in greater comfort and safety, and has greater access to information than ever before. The new Trump administration should first aim to “do no harm,” and reject policies to tax and regulate away our access to affordable energy. Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—are the world’s dominant energy sources because, in most markets, they are the most cost effective and reliable. The following are five actions President-elect Trump should take to promote affordable energy, while also protecting the environment.


  • End U.S. Participation in the Paris Climate Agreement and Defund the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and U.N. Green Climate Fund
  • Overturn the Clean Power Plan
  • Require the EPA to Meet its Statutory Deadlines before Pursuing Discretionary Objectives
  • Stop Counting Pollution Reduction Benefits Achieved both Above and Below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards as One and the Same
  • Reform and Terminate Unaccountable Environmental Research Programs

Read more about CEI’s energy and environment recommendations here.

    Unleash America’s Labor Force

    According to recent research, labor regulations issued in the last year will cost the economy $80 billion and could cause more than 150,000 workers to lose their jobs. President-elect Donald Trump must make it a priority to reverse course on these Obama-era employment policies that aim to direct the private behavior of workers and employers by limiting how individuals can work and companies operate. To do this, labor agencies in the Trump administration should create a framework to promote vibrant workplaces that allow employees the freedom to negotiate their own contract terms and allow job creators the flexibility to innovate. 

    Priorities for the Trump administration should include issuing new guidance on worker classification to protect independent businessmen and appointing an advocate for sharing economy workers and employers within the Labor Department. President Trump should also select members for the National Labor Relations Board that will restore the NLRB’s purpose to what Congress intended; to represent the public interest in labor disputes. Overturning the dangerous overtime rule should be a priority as well, as both employers and workers would be harmed if the rule goes into effect. The following are four actions President-elect Trump should take to unleash America’s labor force.


    • Rescind the Department of Labor’s Administrator’s Interpretation on Joint Employment and Independent Contractors
    • Protect and Promote the Sharing Economy
    • Rein in Activism by the National Labor Relations Board
    • Reverse the Department of Labor’s New Overtime Rule

    ​Read more about CEI’s labor and employment recommendations here.

    Restore Americans’ Financial Freedom

    For more than 15 years, Congress and the executive branch have imposed a series of laws and regulations that place obstacles in the way of entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers. These policies have led to greater concentration in the financial industry and limited options for credit and capital for consumers and entrepreneurs. President-elect Donald Trump must ease or reverse these policies by executive action, and then work with Congress to repeal the rest. 

    The first steps for the Trump administration should include firing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray. In order to properly “drain the swamp,” the CFPB director should be someone who will stop the Bureau’s abuses of power. Second, President Trump should also delay the implementation of the Labor Department’s expensive fiduciary rule. Thanks to this rule, millions of middle-class savers stand to lose access to financial advice and choices. And third, it’s time for the new administration to ease Sarbanes-Oxley’s burdensome mandates. Sarbox’s shower of red tape has stunted the growth of businesses for more than a decade. Its required audit of internal controls have caused accounting costs to quadruple for many public companies. The following are three actions President-elect Trump should take to restore Americans’ financial freedom.


    • Replace Richard Cordray with a Pro-Market Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    • Delay Implementation of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule Indefinitely Until It Can Be Repealed
    • Ease Sarbanes-Oxley’s Onerous Internal Control Mandates

    ​Read more about CEI’s banking and finance recommendations here.

    Support Technology and Innovation

    The frontier sectors that define the new high-tech economy are uniquely vulnerable to political predation and cronyism. But, if President-elect Donald Trump sticks with his contention that 70 percent of regulation “can go,” prospects look good for American innovation in technology.

    Regulation in advanced technology beyond the absolute minimum often becomes the government picking winners and losers, while imposing rules that limit future breakthroughs. If Washington pursues overarching regulation like the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality mandates and cybersecurity rules, it is easy to envision how progress on unmanned drones, self-driving cars, robotics, artificial intelligence, and emergent space exploration will be stifled, allowing only the largest companies to thrive while shutting out competition and innovation.

    President Trump has the responsibility to designate a Chairman among the FCC’s five commissioners. This person should be willing to undo the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order that imposed a “net neutrality” mandate on Internet providers and subjected them to a panoply of other regulations. A Trump administration should also work with Congress to enact legislation to phase out the FCC entirely and allow voluntary institutions to take over the agency’s current responsibilities. 

    Other priorities for the Trump administration should include working with Congress to allow markets to bolster privacy and cybersecurity. President Trump should also oppose any efforts by state sales tax authorities to tax other states’ businesses for purchases made online. The following are five actions President-elect Trump should take to support technology and innovation. 


    • Free the Internet from Public Utility-Style Net Neutrality Regulation
    • Make Telecom Regulation More Accountable by Clarifying the Federal Communications Commission’s Role
    • Empower Markets to Bolster Privacy and Cybersecurity
    • Don’t Slam the Brakes on Self-Driving Vehicles
    • Avoid Internet Sales Taxes

    ​Read more about CEI’s technology and innovation recommendations here.