On Thursday, President Donald Trump gave the American people an update on his historic effort to slice through the red tape strangling the economy behind the scenes. The president had promised to slash two regulations for every new regulation issued, but in his first three years, he has far exceeded that ambitious promise. His deregulation saves the average American family thousands of dollars per year.
“Before I came into office, American workers were smothered by a merciless avalanche of wasteful and expensive and intrusive federal regulation. These oppressive, burdensome mandates were a stealth tax on our people — slashing take-home pay, suppressing innovation, surging the cost of goods, and shipping millions of American jobs overseas — millions and millions and millions. It never ended,” Trump announced on Thursday.
“We launched the most dramatic regulatory relief campaign in American history,” the president noted. “At the heart of this effort was a revolutionary promise: For every one new regulation issued, we pledged that two federal regulations would be permanently removed. We not only met that ambitious goal — which, at the time, people said was impossible — we vastly exceeded it. For every one new regulation added, nearly eight federal regulations have been terminated.”
While the Obama administration added more than 16,000 pages of job-killing regulations to the Federal Register in 8 years, Trump’s administration has removed nearly 25,000 pages of regulations in just over three years.
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“The prior administration piled up more than 600 major new regulations — a cruel and punishing regulatory burden that cost the average American an additional $2,300 per year. Think of that: The average American, $2,300, regulation — hitting low-income Americans, by far, the hardest. These regulations also inflicted a steep economic toll on African American communities,” Trump noted.
The Trump administration’s “historic regulatory relief is providing the average American household an extra $3,100 every single year.”
Curbing back regulation also helps expand customer choices, making life concretely better for Americans. The president gave some eye-opening examples.
“We’re bringing back consumer choice in home appliances so that you can buy washers and dryers, showerheads, and faucets. So showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect,” Trump joked.
The president drew a loud round of applause when he announced, “And old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs — I brought them back. I brought them back.”
“We’re reclaiming America’s proud heritage as a nation of builders,” Trump declared. “We stopped the egregious abuse of the Clean Water Act, which extreme activists have used to shut down construction projects all across our country. When I signed that legislation, I had many farmers and construction people standing behind me — people that haven’t cried since they were a baby. Some of them never even when they were a baby, and they were crying. Many people were cry — we gave them back their life.”
The president also announced that his administration completed “a sweeping overhaul of America’s badly broken infrastructure approval process. It was totally out of control. Instead of taking up to 20 years to approve a major project, we’re cutting the federal permitting timeline — it’s already been done — to a maximum of two years or less; in some cases, even less than one year.”
Trump also touted his administration’s 740 actions to suspend regulations that would have slowed America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “This includes lifting restrictions on manufacturers so that our great autoworkers could produce more than 100,000 ventilators. So we’ve done over 100,000 in 100 days. Think of that. And we didn’t have ventilators. We weren’t set up for ventilators. We became a country that’s making a lot of them, helping so many others — countries that are never going to be in a position to make them. They’re complex, they’re expensive, they’re big. Very, very, very tough to do. And we’ve saved a lot of lives.”
The president hailed this production of health equipment as “probably the greatest source of manufacturing, the greatest achievements since World War II.”
Trump also noted that Vice President Mike Pence “is also working closely with state, local, and tribal leaders to streamline occupational licensing.” He said more than 30 states have taken steps to reduce these barriers to employment.
“The American people know best how to run their own lives,” Trump confidently declared. “They don’t need Washington bureaucrats controlling their every move and micromanaging their every decision. With each regulation we cut, we’re not only returning the money and the power to our citizens, we are draining the Washington swamp, and they’re not happy about it — I can tell you that. I think you know that.” The president noted that the swamp runs deep, “deeper than I thought.”
A great deal of work still remains. While the Trump administration’s deregulation efforts are saving the average American family roughly $3,100 per year, a Competitive Enterprise Institute from May 2017 found that if the cost of federal regulations flowed down to U.S. households, the average American family would pay $14,809 in a hidden regulatory tax — on top of income taxes, state taxes, and Social Security.
Trump’s deregulation is indeed historic, but he is far from done. The president needs another four years to make an even larger dent.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.