President Trump Should Rediscover Regulatory Reform

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President Trump, who made regulatory reform a priority early in his term, claims to have reduced federal regulatory burdens by $23 billion in fiscal year 2018. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he has hinted at declaring premature victory and given indications of abandoning the issue altogether.

After losing the House in the 2018 elections, congressional Republicans may have blown their best chance in decades at passing significant regulatory-reform legislation. It may be years before they have another opportunity. What can reformers do until then?

One patch of fertile ground is addressing what we term regulatory “dark matter” — interpretive rules and policy statements that do not go through the public notice-and-comment requirement that applies to ordinary regulations, yet still carry regulatory weight. There is much that the executive branch can do on its own here.

Dark matter can take the form of guidance documents, memoranda, notices, circulars, or even press releases indicating a policy change, such as Labor Department designation of independent contractors. Guidance is not supposed to be legally binding on citizens, or even the issuing agency, yet as the Administrative Conference of the United States has detailed, those who are regulated by agencies have reason to feel obliged to comply with the policy content of such pronouncements.

Read the full article at the National Review.