White House Sees Deregulation as Economic Growth Strategy

By Cheryl Bolen

Deregulation has successfully boosted economic growth and will remain a key part of the Trump administration’s economic strategy going forward, Marc Short, a White House official, said.

“The Trump administration has been, and remains very focused on jump-starting the American economy and allowing the private sector to create jobs,” Short, director of legislative affairs, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

The president already has taken “unprecedented steps” to cut regulations and get the federal government out of the way of the economy—a strategy that the White House intends to continue, Short said.

The Trump administration has withdrawn 860 regulatory actions to date and signed bills to rescind 14 regulations using the Congressional Review Act, Short said.

Linking Deregulation, Economic Growth

These executive actions and bills combined are estimated to save the economy $18 billion annually, Short said, although that estimate includes savings from rules not yet eliminated, Bloomberg BNA found.

“These actions are having a real impact in the lives of the American people,” Short said. Since inauguration, the administration has created 1.2 million jobs, and wages and small business optimism are up, he said.

Short’s remarks mirror those of the president. In a Sept. 6 speech in North Dakota, President Donald Trump said cutting regulation had a lot to do with last quarter’s 3 percent GDP growth rate.

Economists have long debated the contributors to economic growth, said James Broughel, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In a new book, Broughel argued that regulatory policy can play a role as a promoter or an inhibitor of economic growth.

“You’ve seen it—so many jobs, the stock market is at new highs. We’re getting rid of one job-killing regulation after another,” Trump said.

Continuing What Works

Even though Trump said “tremendous numbers” of regulations have been cut, he said that soon there would be even more.

Short said he had no new executive orders or regulatory initiatives to announce, but that the administration would continue to review regulations.

“In many cases there are reviews that are under way, so yes, I would anticipate that we will continue to look at ways to roll back what we felt was an undue regulatory burden that much of our economy faced when this administration came into office,” Short said.

In terms of legislative options, Short said he was unfamiliar with a bill (S. 951) sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to overhaul the rulemaking process. Passage of the Regulatory Accountability Act is the top regulatory priority of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many business interests.

Cost Savings Speculative

When asked how the administration came up with its $18 billion estimate of regulatory cost savings, Bloomberg BNA was pointed to an April blog post by the American Action Forum (AAF).

“According to AAF, recent regulatory actions, including Congressional Review Act (CRA) votes, could produce more than $86 billion in savings for taxpayers, on top of the potential for $18.8 billion in annual regulatory savings,” the post said.

Sam Batkins, then-director of regulatory policy at AFF and the post’s author, updated his calculations in June, finding that the potential annual cost savings for all the rules that the Trump administration wanted cut could be as much as $21.8 billion.

But because the final outcome of these major rules was far from certain, Batkins was careful to say these were potential cost savings.

The Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule, for example, was an early target of the Trump administration with an estimated cost of $31.5 billion to the economy when it was issued in 2016, according to AAF. But rather than overturning the rule, the administration delayed parts of it.

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

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