New Report Grades Trump Record on Deregulation

Former OIRA Administrator Assesses Two-Year Mark of Trump Pledge to Deregulate U.S. Economy

The flow of new regulations has diminished significantly in President Trump’s first two-years in office, while more than 500 deregulatory rulemakings across multiple federal agencies are underway.  But these efforts are likely to see roadblocks in the federal judiciary as well as lead to a potential uptick in state and local regulations, according to a new report commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research (ACCF-CPR).  The report was co-authored by John D. Graham, the former Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President George W. Bush and Keith B. Belton, Director of the Manufacturing Policy Initiative at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.  Graham currently serves as Dean of the school.

“Deregulation was a central plank of Donald Trump’s national economic and energy plans during the 2016 election,” Graham said.  “Our review finds significant slowing of new regulations over the last two years compared to the last two administrations, but the deregulation process has been somewhat slow and cumbersome and will likely face hurdles, particularly on climate change deregulation, in the federal courts, which are largely Democrat appointees or in Congress.”

The ACCF-CPR report defines deregulation as (1) slowing the flow of new federal regulations, (2) collaborating with Congress on the repeal or scaling back of selected existing regulations, and (3) using executive power to repeal or curb the scope and/or stringency of selected existing regulations.  Key findings include:

  • The flow of new regulations under the Donald Trump administration has been much smaller than observed during the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations.
  • The Trump Administration has underway 514 deregulatory rulemakings on a wide range of issues at different federal agencies.
  • Progress toward reviewing and removing the huge body of existing regulations has been slow, though there are some completed deregulatory rulemakings.
  • There are early signs that Trump’s deregulatory agenda is being blocked or delayed by decisions in the federal judiciary.
  • The Trump administration is undertaking several deregulatory actions related to climate change, but those actions are vulnerable to delay or reversal through judicial or legislative interventions.
  • An unintended consequence of federal deregulation under Trump has been determined growth in some state and local regulations on some issues.

The ACCF-CPR report looks exclusively at the regulatory process and not the impact of the economic, public health or environmental impacts of the Trump agenda.  If the Trump administration wishes to uphold its commitment to deregulation, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • The unfilled leadership posts at federal agencies should be filled by the Trump administration as soon as possible.
  • When the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reports the number of deregulatory and regulatory actions, the same types of actions should be counted on the regulatory and deregulatory sides of the ledger.
  • New tools are needed to measure the impact of regulatory and deregulatory actions as to their impact on freedom.
  • The foregone benefits of regulation need to be taken seriously in regulatory impact analyses, agency decision making and OMB communications about federal regulatory policy.
  • The Trump administration should revise its climate rulemakings to make them less vulnerable to judicial reversal; given the changing composition of the Congress, it should also consider a legislative initiative on climate policy.
  • When devising federal regulatory and deregulatory solutions, the Trump administration should take into account the prospects of future state and local regulations.

“President Trump’s goal to deregulate the U.S. economy is ambitious and challenging as his administration has found in its first two years,” Belton said. “While much of his agenda’s fate lies in the hands of the courts, there are a number of steps that he can take to give it better odds of surviving long term.”

Read and Download the ACCF Center for Policy Research Report:

“Trump’s Deregulatory Record: An Assessment at the Two-Year Mark”

The American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research is a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic policy organization dedicated to the advocacy of pro-growth tax, energy, environmental, regulatory, trade and economic policies that encourage saving and investment.