One of the primary reason voters held their noses at the polls and voted for Donald Trump was because of his promise to improve America’s business climate. Many voters drew a correlation between the economy’s anemic growth and eight years of an expanding regulatory state under President Obama. According to a new report by Politico, Trump is making dramatic changes to the way the federal government handles regulations—by not signing any new significant ones into law.
Since Trump moved into the White House to the end of May, only 15 regulations have been approved by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. By comparison, Obama’s administration approved 93 new rules, while George W. Bush issued 114 over the same time period.
Minor regulations, like adjusting the schedule of a drawbridge or designating airspace in Montana, have proceeded at a slower, but less dramatic pace. While the Trump administration has struggled to fill a number of cabinet positions responsible for issuing new rules, the lack of regulations are also a reflection of a deliberate hands-off, pro-business policy.
Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon raised eyebrows during a conference in February when he said the White House’s goal was the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” In the past, Bannon has also spoken favorably about radically shrinking the federal bureaucracy.
The earliest example of Trump’s anti-regulatory agenda was his “two-for-one” executive order signed on January 30th. This executive order stated that for every new regulation proposed, the government agency must identify at the minimum two existing ones that will be repealed. Further, if a new rule leads to new costs of over $100 million for the business or industry in question, at least two older rules that cause the same economic burden, must be eliminated.
Free market champions have applauded the slowdown. Economist Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation fellow and former adviser to the Trump campaign said “it’s a reason to celebrate.” Liberal activists, like Amit Narang from the watchdog group Public Citizen, called the changes “really alarming,” but acknowledged that Trump is “putting [his] money where [his] mouth is.”