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March 8, 2019

Immediately after President Trump’s Inauguration the Administration, Congressional Leaders and the business community worked together to begin the process of rolling back the aggressive regulatory agenda of the Obama Administration. Some Obama Executive Orders were quickly reversed by Trump Executive Orders, some rules were reversed by an agency, and some were unraveled by withdrawing the government from ongoing litigation.

Significantly, rules were also reversed legislatively using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA was enacted in 1996 to allow Congress to repeal rules issued by a president late in his/her term.  Prior to 2017, the CRA had been successfully used only once; in 2017 Congress and President Trump repealed 14 rules using the CRA.

The regulatory reform effort has been successful by any measure.  In October, 2017, Investor’s Business Daily reported on a study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute showing that:

Trump ends the fiscal year as America’s least-regulatory president since Reagan. It’s no exaggeration. The Federal Register, the bible of federal rules, peaked at record high 97,110 pages under President Obama in 2016. Today, under President Trump, it stands at 45,678 pages.

Even more notable, on January 5, 2018, American Action Forum (AAF) published a comprehensive report entitled “2017: THE YEAR IN REGULATION.”    AAF reported that 274 regulations were finalized in 2017 with an economic cost of $30.6 billion, but that:

81 percent of all regulatory costs finalized in 2017 came during President Obama’s final weeks in office. . . Of the $30.6 billion in finalized costs last year, $24.8 billion came from 38 rules published from January 3-19, 2017, in the waning days of the Obama Administration . . . [T]he imposition of just $5.8 billion in new regulatory costs in nearly a year is a considerable feat for the Trump Administration.

They concluded their report noting that:

2017 marked a sea change in the regulatory paradigm. . . [T]he Trump Administration’s latest regulatory agenda and proposed deregulatory measures heading into 2018 point to a continued shift towards reducing regulatory costs and new paperwork mandates. [You can read AAF’s full report here:]

In January, 2019, AAF released its second annual report on regulations in the Trump Administration – 2018: THE YEAR IN REGULATION – and reported that the deregulatory mission of the Trump Administration remained on track:

For the first time since the American Action Forum (AAF) began tracking final regulations published in the Federal Register (going back to 2005), federal agencies published net regulatory cost savings for a calendar year. AAF research found that in 2018 federal agencies finalized 324 regulations with estimated costs, savings, or paperwork impacts . . . resulting in cost savings of $7.8 billion.

Press coverage of Trump regulatory reform –

This success story should have merited press coverage, especially since the business-friendly regulatory climate almost certainly contributed to economic growth and the record-breaking stock market. But the story has gone mostly untold, with one notable exception.

Politico took note in a May, 2017, story headlined:  “Inside Trump’s war on regulations . . . The push to block, rewrite and delay scores of Obama-era rules may be the administration’s biggest untold success.”  They wrote that:

The chaos of President Donald Trump’s first four months as president has overshadowed a series of actions that could reshape American life for decades — efforts to rewrite or wipe out regulations affecting everything from student loans and restaurant menus to internet privacy, workplace injuries and climate change.

But Trump is going after even bigger targets, setting bureaucratic wheels in motion that could eventually ax or revise hundreds of regulations as agencies reorient themselves toward unwinding red tape and granting speedier approvals to projects. If successful, these efforts could represent the most far-reaching rollback of federal regulations since Ronald Reagan’s presidency.