Trump's Record as a Regulator

The president promised to get rid of bad rules. Has he?


President Donald Trump promised he'd get rid of bad rules.

"Remove the anchor dragging us down!" he said when campaigning for president. "We're going to cancel every needless job-killing regulation!"

Trump was a developer, so he knew that the thicket of rules government imposes often makes it impossible to get things done.

But would he keep his deregulation promise? I was skeptical.

Republicans often talk deregulation but then add rules. People called President George W. Bush an "anti-regulator." But once he was president, he hired 90,000 new regulators!

Trump has been different.

When he took office, he hired regulation skeptics. He told government agencies: Get rid of two regulations for every new one you add.

I think his anti-regulation attitude is why stock prices rose and unemployment dropped. Trump sent a message to business: Government will no longer try to crush you. Businesses then started hiring.

Of course, the media wasn't happy. Reporters love regulation.

They call Trump's moves "an attack on the environment" and on "workers' health." The New York Times ran the headline "Donald Trump Is Trying to Kill You!"

What the media don't get is that regulations have unintended side effects that often outweigh the good they're intended to do.

Cars built smaller to comply with President Obama's rules that require doubling of gas mileage cause increased deaths because smaller cars provide less protection.

"Should the government tell you what kind of car to buy?" asks Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform in my new video about Trump.

Norquist says that Trump has largely kept his deregulation promise, and that's been great for America.

For example, Trump repealed the Obama-era plan to classify franchise businesses like McDonald's as one single business. Why?

"The trial lawyers want to be able to sue all of McDonald's, not just the local McDonald's, if they spill coffee on themselves," says Norquist. "And the labor unions want to unionize all McDonald's, not just the one store. That would have been a disaster."

Trump's FCC repealed Obama's "net neutrality" rule, which would have limited internet providers' freedom to charge different prices.

Democrats and other regulation-lovers predicted repeal would mean that rich people would dominate the internet. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) even tweeted that repeal would mean "the end of the internet as we know it."

Of course, none of those things happened. Or as Norquist puts it: "None of it! None of it!"

But some Obama regulations sounded so important.

Norquist laughs at that. "The names for these regulations are written by regulators. They're advertisements for themselves."

Of course, unlike advertisers, regulators don't list side effects of their rules, which Norquist says should read: "May cause unemployment, may reduce wages, may raise the cost of energy, may make your car not driveable."

Trump's deregulation record would be better were he not so eager to add regulations, such as tariffs, at the same time.

"There is a challenge. Trump is a protectionist in many ways," says Norquist, sadly. "Tariffs are taxes, and regulations on the border are regulations on consumers."

So are Trump's "buy American" rules.

"That sounds like a good idea, but it's a dumb idea, and I wish he hadn't done it," says Norquist. "That is not deregulation. The good news is that the vast majority of the acts have been deregulatory and tremendously helpful."

Recently, Trump announced, "We have cut 22 regulations for every new regulation!"

He exaggerated, as he often does. The real number is about five. But that's still pretty good. Better than Ronald Reagan did.

I wish Trump would do more.

I wish he'd remove his tariffs and agricultural subsidies and kill the Export-Import Bank, drug prohibition, and the onerous rules that encourage illegal immigration by making it almost impossible for foreigners to work here legally.

Keep your promise, President Trump! Repeal 22 regulations for every new one!

Nevertheless, so far, mostly good.

Every excessive rule repealed is a step in the right direction: toward freedom.


NEXT: Brickbat: Snitches Get Stitches

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  1. But is Trump regular?

  2. Thank you
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  3. “There is a challenge. Trump is a protectionist in many ways,” says Norquist, sadly. “Tariffs are taxes, and regulations on the border are regulations on consumers.”

    Whoa, who knew? When did they learn this, and WHY didn’t they tell us earlier?!?!

    Also, the AMA says, don’t you DARE get rid of the regulations that us peons of the public need to get a physician’s permission before blowing on a cheap plastic flute!!! If THAT ever happens, HUGE masses of people will be falling over dead from improperly blowing on “lung flutes”!!!

    To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

  4. Trump was a developer, so he knew that the thicket of rules government imposes often makes it impossible to get things done.

    I think you mean to say he knew that the thicket of rules government imposes often makes it impossible to get things done if you’re not an insider familiar with the thicket of rules. If you know which palms to grease, which backs to scratch and which asses to kiss, it’s a lot easier to get things done. The thicket of rules is only a hindrance if you’re on the other side of the thicket.

    “Of course I donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign, that’s just how business is done.” – Donald Trump, dismissing criticism of his Republican bona fides during the Republican primaries

    1. And getting rid of that thicket when you have the power to do so means you and everyone else get to keep the money you would otherwise lose in oaying to circumvent the thicket.

  5. And of course, I should add that Donald Trump is wrong and/or ignorant and/or lying when he complains about China and Mexico and foreign countries “stealing” our jobs and industry. Our jobs and industry weren’t stolen, they were sold by the EPA, OSHA, the DoL Wage and Hour Division, the AFL/CIO and everybody else demanding good jobs at good wages that didn’t entail anything dirty or dangerous or requiring hard, sweaty work. It’s only now that people are waking up to the price we paid for cleaner air and water and safer jobs and higher pay, but most of them don’t see any connection between what we got and what we paid. Like Bernie Sanders, they just assume that everything should be free and they’re outraged that there’s a price attached to the free shit. And also like Bernie Sanders, the EPA and OSHA and WHD and the unions and the minimum wage and living wage proponents are quite happy to claim they’re in the business of distributing free shit.

    1. kind of a rant but I agree. Where we are right now is a direct consequence of exactly what you mentioned. It seems no one wants to admit it, or they just don’t have enough snap to realize it.

      Some of the things are good (cleaner air / environment) but there are trade-offs.

      Bernie is just on another world completely – unfortunately too many people like that world.

  6. Any argument that regulations are bad simply because they have unintended “side effects” fails. Of course they have “side effects.” The point of rigorous and careful rulemaking is to evaluate those side effects against the anticipated benefits of the rulemaking, and to try to strike a balance between congressionally-mandated goals and whatever impacts the side effects might have.

    For example, it’s pointless to say that the emissions standards for cars will cause more deaths from car crashes (because cars will have to be smaller) without also acknowledging that failing to impose stricter standards will impose its own death cost, in terms of pollution-caused illnesses and climate change-caused issues.

    And it is crucial, if you want to opine in an informed way on this topic, that you pay attention to the many ways that the Trump administration is putting the thumb on the scales of those technical cost-benefit analyses. Impacts caused by climate change? No longer considered. Data based on scientific studies that protect participant confidentiality? Thrown out. Cost-benefit analyses back-ended into regulations where the statutes categorically disallow such analyses? It’s all the rage. It’s one thing to say, “Look, maybe we should strike the balance a bit differently.” It’s quite another to say, “We are going to support our efforts to deregulate legally by constructing a set of fantasy data.” The point of Trump’s efforts, in other words, is to simply lie to the American people about whether his efforts are harming us more than they’re helping.

    Also omitted from this uninformed discussion is any consideration of how Trump’s unilateral actions on trade (and other enforcement efforts at the DOJ) are creating a newly-invigorated cronyism. The tariffs restrict free trade, sure, but they also provide numerous opportunities to game the system, seeking exemptions for some market participants and blocking exemptions for competitors. And it’s clear that the C-Suite is getting wise to the game, directly lobbying Trump for favorable action. DOJ approvals of M&A activity also appears to be a way that the Trump administration punishes critics and rewards cronies.

    What Trump is constructing, in other words, is an economy that thrives only with his say-so, where market actors require his good will in order to do business. That’s true even when we’re talking in generalities about his deregulation efforts – which rules are being rolled back, to whose benefit? Pay attention.

    1. What a load of shit. You really must struggle to make up garbage like that.

    2. Sometimes you have to lie to gain liberty. Like lying on tax returns or telling the cops you don’t have a Jew hidden in the closet. And sometimes lying may hurt your friends as well as your enemies, so there are tradeoffs in anything.

      Would I lie as a regulator and say a drug or whatever was safe when it wasn’t? Probably I would, if telling the truth meant innocent people weren’t allowed to make their own choice about whether to buy the product. I’d be counting on them finding out by their own sources what the real story was, so the cops would lose but they would win.

    3. Thank you for your cogent & truthful comment.

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