The most underreported story (except here at Reason!) about President Donald Trump's White House nine months in has been his administration's concerted effort to slow down, block, roll back, and reform the regulatory state. Given that, in the wake of serial Obamacare-repeal failure, Trump has arguably reached the pen-and-phone stage of his presidency 51 months before his predecessor did, you'd think that taking a poleaxe to the executive branch would receive more attention. But the man does have a knack for generating headlines far afield from the monotony of governance.
The end of the fiscal year over the weekend gives us a chance to step back and do some counting—or better yet, let the regulation-obsessives over at the Competitive Enterprise Institute do it for us. There, CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews has put together a piece, "Red Tape Rollback Report: Trump Ends Fiscal Year as America's Least-Regulatory President Since Reagan," that if anything is guilty of headline understatement. Consider:
Compared to Obama at this time last year, Trump's [Federal Register] page count is down 32 percent so far in his first year. […]
In nine months, the Trump administration has issued 2,183 rules. Obama issued 2,686 rules in the corresponding time period in 2016. Trump's tally represents an 18 percent decrease.
Significant rules issued, generally those with an impact of $100 million or more, are down an astonishing 58 percent compared to Obama. Trump's agencies issued 116 significant final rules during his first nine months, while Obama's issued 274 over the corresponding nine-month period in 2016.
And that doesn't count the rules currently being cooked up:
Trump's overall proposed rules in the pipeline are far below any of his predecessors […]
They are down a down 28 percent compared to the corresponding time frame from Obama's final year. Trump: 1241, Obama: 1737.
Note that Trump's "significant" proposed rules are drastically below any predecessor. They are down 77 percent compared to Obama. Trump: 65, Obama: 290.
Bolding in the original, which is filled with hyperlinks to further resources, and can be found here.
Earlier this year I wrote a cover story on the prospects of Trumpian deregulation. Since then some of the will-he/won't-he signs that regulatory reformers were anticipating have come up positive. But as the recent Jones Act wavering, trade saber-rattling, and infrastructure-investment reversal illustrate, the 19th century protectionism that deregulation types were also fretting about in my article is always a threat to overwhelm the gains made by deconstructing and reshaping the administrative state.