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By Cheryl Bolen
Federal agencies in President Donald Trump’s administration exceeded their goals of vastly reducing the number and cost of regulations in 2017 and are on track to do so again next year, the White House said.
“I want every Cabinet secretary, agency head, and federal worker to push even harder to cut even more regulations in 2018,” Trump said in remarks Dec. 14 at the White House. “And that should just about do it. I don’t know if we’ll have any left to cut.”
The president’s remarks were timed to match the release of the long-awaited Fall 2017 Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, which are mandatory reports to Congress issued each year. An update to the unified agenda is issued each spring.
The latest unified agenda shows that agencies plan to finalize three deregulatory actions for every new regulatory action in fiscal year 2018. Over the last year, 1,579 proposals or planned regulatory actions were withdrawn or delayed, it shows.
Critics expressed strong opposition to the plan.
“The regulatory protections his administration is rolling back, delaying, or abandoning not only save lives, prevent injuries, stop consumer rip-offs, and protect the planet, they make our economy stronger,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a statement.
One of the president’s first actions this year was to sign Executive Order 13,771, which required agencies to cut two regulations for every new one issued.
Also earlier this year, the administration set a target of adding “zero new regulatory costs” on the economy, Trump said.
“Today I’m proud to announce that we beat our goal by a lot,” Trump said. “For the first time in decades, we achieved regulatory savings.”
“And instead of eliminating two old regulations for every one new regulation, we have eliminated 22,” Trump said.
Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an agency within the White House Office of Management and Budget charged with reviewing all significant federal regulations, called 2017 a year of remarkable success.
In response to the executive order, agencies took 67 deregulatory actions to offset the three significant regulations issued in FY 2017, Rao said. The deregulatory actions included eliminating regulations, guidance documents, and paperwork requirements, she said.
These actions produced $8.1 billion in present value cost savings, which translates into $570 million in annual cost savings, according to Rao. “That is a net reduction in regulatory costs,” she said.
Looking ahead to fiscal year 2018, agencies intend to take 448 deregulatory actions and 131 regulatory actions, Rao said. Agencies project that these actions next year will produce about $10 billion in present value cost savings, she said.
During his remarks at the White House, Trump cut a red tape hung between two tall stacks of paper representing pages of regulations in 1960 and today.
“We’re going to cut a ribbon because we’re getting back below the 1960 level, and we’ll be there fairly quickly,” Trump said.
Some of these rules have been beneficial to the nation and will be kept, Trump said. “We want to protect our workers, our safety, our health, and we want to protect our water, we want to protect our air, and our country’s natural beauty,” he said.
“But every unnecessary page in these stacks represents hidden tax and harmful burdens to American workers and to American businesses,” Trump said.
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