Trump’s Dangerous Attack on Federal Regulations

Trump's Dangerous Attack on Federal Regulations

The President's stated goal of a 75 percent cut in federal regulations in unattainable, and a bad idea to boot.

President Trump’s executive order attacking federal regulations is a sham. Don’t believe me? Do the math.

The President has directed federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new regulation they impose. His stated goal is a 75 percent cut in regulations. Trump also wants to impose a tight budget on regulatory agencies, effectively strangling their ability to issue new rules.

The order is music to the ears of the President’s political base; regulation-bashing has been a staple of Republican politics for decades, particularly since the Reagan administration. But as the non-partisan Congressional Research Service reported last year, the number of new regulations issued each year has been declining steadily since 1976; the 3,410 rules imposed in 2015 is about half the total in 1981, Reagan’s first year in the White House.

And as two conservative researchers pointed out in a Politico posting on Tuesday, the new administration would need to issue more than 85,000 pages of new rules just to cut the current total of 171,000 pages in half.

Even if Trump could enforce the one-in, two out policy detailed in his order and impose his regulatory budget – two dubious propositions — the administration still couldn’t possibly reach the 75 percent goal during Trump’s presidency, researchers Kevin Kosar and C. Jarrett Dieterle observe.

All that assumes that Trump’s goal and his plan for achieving it make sense. They don’t.

Such a dramatic cut in federal regulations would be arbitrary, unneeded and downright dangerous to millions of Americans. In hundreds of thousands of ways, the regulations Trump and his corporate allies find so objectionable provide critical protections to public health and safety. They put limits on the types and amounts of toxins that can legally be dumped into our air and water; they protect us against tainted foods in our grocery stores and restaurants and ensure that our cars are equipped with lifesaving equipment like air bags and crash-resistant bumpers. The list goes on and on.

The Trump policy also could be dangerous to democracy. “This has nothing to do with making government more efficient; it is an ideological assault against the public interest,” said Michael Copps, a former Federal Communications Commission member now serving as Common Cause’s special advisor on media and democracy reform.

“Of particular concern, the (Trump order) may impact independent regulators such as the FCC,” Copps added. “Time and again the citizens of our nation have stood up for strong public interest safeguards to hold Big Cable and Big Telecoms accountable. They fought for, and won, historic Open Internet (“net neutrality”) protections. They want an agency that can maintain and enforce them, and craft strong new rules to respond to abuses as they arise…  If, as is altogether possible, the ‘independent’ FCC’s new leadership embraces the Trump plan, who will choose which regs go by the board?  Just the chairman?  Won’t we need an expensive and time-consuming rule-making for each one?  

“This is what government by billionaires and special interests looks like. Consumers, hang on to your wallets!”