Trump Administration to Continue March Toward Deregulation

Daily Report for Executives provides in-depth coverage of unfolding legislative, regulatory, and judicial news from the nation’s capital, the states, and around the world. This daily news service...

By Cheryl Bolen

The Trump administration will continue its push to end what it characterizes as unnecessary and burdensome regulations as a way to promote economic growth and job creation, an invitee to a White House summit on deregulation said.

President Donald Trump had been scheduled to give an address on deregulation but canceled the speech in the wake of the mass shooting in the early morning hours in Las Vegas. A copy of his prepared remarks was provided to Bloomberg BNA.

Vice President Mike Pence delivered remarks instead to the roughly 300 invitees gathered in the East Room of the White House, including those from think tanks, industry groups, universities, and businesses. The event was closed to the press.

“He delivered a very strong address showing the president’s and this administration’s firm commitment to doing everything they can to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens in order to strengthen our economy,” said Paul Noe, vice president of public policy at the American Forest and Paper Association, who was invited.

No Surprises

Trump was expected to highlight the themes of regulatory review and the benefits it can have on ordinary Americans, the nation’s regulatory chief, Neomi Rao, told reporters Sept. 29 in a conference call.

After the speech, 10 federal departments hosted sessions at their headquarters to discuss their regulatory agendas. The Environmental Protection Agency, which already has held several public sessions, did not participate.

The president has made deregulation a key part of his administration that is linked to important goals, including economic growth, job creation, and spurring innovation, said Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“And regulatory reform of course is in some ways fundamentally about protecting individual liberty and property rights,” Rao said. “We also see these reform efforts as a key part of restoring more constitutional government.”

Presidential Priorities

Agencies must regulate within the laws enacted by Congress, but where agencies have discretion under the law, OIRA is working with them to ensure they follow presidential priorities, a key component to democratic accountability, Rao said.

In January, Trump signed an executive order requiring agencies to eliminate two rules and offset the costs of each new rule they issue. Since then, agency rulemakings have resulted in $300 million in annualized cost savings, Rao said.

Also under the executive order, agencies have finalized four new rules that must comply with the executive order and taken 10 deregulatory actions to offset them, Rao said.

The four final rules include two issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in August related to skilled nursing and acute care hospitals, one by the EPA on dental amalgams, and one by the Department of Energy on efficiency standards for walk-in refrigerators, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Firm Commitment

Although Trump has spoken about deregulation many times, Pence’s speech was a firm commitment to continue that part of the administration’s agenda, Noe told Bloomberg BNA.

Behind the podium was a visual representation of the number of pages in the Federal Register in the 1960s compared to the number of pages today, with a piece of red tape connecting the two stacks, Noe said. The difference is about 20,000 pages then, compared with 200,000 pages now, he said.

“We really appreciate the president’s leadership to strengthen domestic manufacturing, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the administration to modernize the U.S. regulatory and permit process, while promoting economic growth,” Noe said.

The vice president did not set any specific goals or thresholds for regulatory activity in the coming year; instead, the speech was more of a vision statement and a broader commitment to improving opportunities for all Americans, Noe said.

Benefits Lost

In a planned response to the president’s speech, Sam Berger, senior policy adviser at the Center for American Progress, said in a post that public benefits will be lost with deregulation.

Despite the Trump administration’s claims that deregulation will lead to economic growth, an analysis of three of his most significant proposed deregulatory efforts—the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule, its Clean Power Plan, and the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule—shows that they will result in tremendous societal cost, Berger said.

Eliminating these three regulations alone would result in $28.3 billion in lost benefits, which is more than the supposed regulatory cost savings from all of the administration’s planned actions so far, Berger said.

The Trump administration has claimed that its regulatory actions, including pending efforts to undo regulations that will take many years, will save businesses $18 billion a year in compliance costs, Berger said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington at cbolen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Try Daily Report for Executives