Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Deregulatory Successes Point to Direction for Trump Administration

Slowing the flood of new rules and rolling back old ones keep some Americans in the president’s corner.

Even as CNN talking heads remain in shock that Donald Trump is actually president, and the man himself apparently sees social media as a means to go full drunk-uncle on an international scale, millions of Americans continue to support the current resident of the White House. FiveThirtyEight has Trump's approval ratings at 38.8 percent as I write, and an insight into why many Americans continue to put their faith in this president landed last week in the form of a Washington Post article on the relief felt by Iowa farmers over the Trump administration's push to roll back much-resented regulatory red tape.

"Obama set aside millions of acres of undeveloped land as national monuments—more than any other president—preventing huge areas from being mined, logged or farmed. Obama also implemented more regulations with a significant economic impact than any president in three decades, according to the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center. Those actions were cheered by many Americans but widely viewed in rural areas as killing jobs."

Iowa, a farming state, notably went overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016 after supporting Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

The Obama administration's controversial Waters of the United States rule received particular criticism for extending federal jurisdiction over unlikely wet patches of ground in ways that burdened the use of private property. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a nationwide stay against the rule in 2015, but memories linger. And so does resentment of politicians and regulators who seem clueless or even actively hostile to whole ranges of economic activity.

"The overwhelming number of proposed regulations on the nation's food system is unprecedented and promises profound effects on both the structure and competitiveness of all agriculture," Carl Shaffer of the American Farm Bureau Federation noted in congressional testimony during 2011 hearings. "EPA proposals are overwhelming to farmers and ranchers and are creating a cascade of costly requirements that are likely to drive individual farmers to the tipping point."

Business people who never touch a plow have similar concerns about regulation.

"The average small-business owner is spending at least $12,000 every year dealing with regulations," National Small Business Association President and CEO Todd McCracken commented upon the release of a survey of small business owners last year. "This has real-world implications: more than half of small businesses have held off on hiring a new employee due to regulatory burdens." In that survey, 58 percent of small business owners said federal rules were the most burdensome to their business, with a specific emphasis on the tax code and the Affordable Care Act.

Unsurprisingly, USA Today reported as Trump took office that "small businesses are hoping to see some high-profile Obama administration regulations scrapped."

The federal government was equally tough on the energy industry, issuing rules regarding hydraulic fracturing that were sufficiently overreaching that they were quickly blocked by the courts as being "in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law." Those rules were officially rescinded at the end of December, prompting the market-friendly Las Vegas Review-Journal to exult, "President Donald Trump's deregulation agenda has perhaps been the defining accomplishment of his first year in office. "

Which is an interesting point.

Largely lost in headlines about Russians, campaign dirty tricks, and Trump's alleged shock at his own victory is his administration's follow-through on deregulatory promises. Soon after taking office in January 2017, Trump ordered federal agencies to make sure that "for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process." That was followed by an order to conduct cost-benefit analyses of federal regulations. In September, the Office of Management and Budget instructed agencies to prepare budgets representing reductions in total regulatory costs.

"Compared to previous presidents, Trump's agencies have issued significantly fewer new regulatory actions and have even begun to look back at existing regulations with an eye toward cost-saving modifications or outright rescissions," wrote Susan E. Dudley, director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, after reviewing the results. "Whatever you think of Trump's chaotic first ten months in office, it is undeniable that he is moving aggressively to fulfill his campaign promises to reduce regulation."

To be clear, not everybody agrees that a deregulatory push is a good thing. The Washington Post piece on deregulatory sentiments among Iowans focused considerable attention on a dissenting farmer who contemplates a world with fewer inspectors, rules, and fines and doesn't like it one bit. "People don't like to be told what to do. I get that. But we do not even have close to enough regulations," he griped.

Echoing that sentiment, National Geographic frets that Trump's actions "roll back Obama-era policies that aimed to curb climate change and limit environmental pollution, while others threaten to limit federal funding for science and the environment."

"In order to stop this dismantling of government in the name of deregulated capitalism, we will need to act fast," warns the National Lawyers Guild, which cautions that "billionaire libertarians like Charles and David Koch…have been working toward this goal for over four decades."

Well, not all of us are billionaires.

Truthfully, too, many fans of deregulation oppose federal intervention only selectively. That dissenting Iowa farmer correctly noted that many of his regulation-hating neighbors happily benefit from farm subsidies and bio-fuel mandates--billions upon billions of dollars transferred from other Americans over the years, as tracked by the Environmental Working Group. The Farm Bureau may dislike rules mandated on its members by D.C., but it's a firm advocate of the idea that "we need more ethanol, not less, and living up to Congressional mandates is the place to begin."

Politicians who propose a freer market where farmers sell what consumers are willing to buy at mutually agreeable prices—meaning an end to subsidies and mandates--tend to have their heads handed to them when they visit agricultural communities.

Which is to say, people who want the government to leave them alone do themselves no favors when they add, "except, you should keep the goodies flowing!" It's not unfair to suggest that the goodies and the red tape are something of a package deal—and should all be done away with.

But whether or not people are consistent in what they want, there is an obvious constituency in this country for less government intervention in people's economic activity. To the extent that the Trump administration has held on to support, it's largely among people to whom it kept its deregulatory promises. That may provide guidance for how an administration that often seems directionless can regain its rudder. And it should offer a reminder to politicians of the future about Americans they ignore at their own peril.

Photo Credit: MIKE THEILER/UPI/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • RazzleDazzle||

    I agree with the article that subsidies have to go as well, but I think large reductions in the regulatory state have to happen before many people are willing to turn against subsidization.

    Perhaps, if Republicans could pass the REINS Act then perhaps this could happen. Too bad they're such fools.

  • BambiB||

    I don't think the regulation has to go first. Make it a package deal. Remove the regulation and the subsidies in the same bill.

    And set up a challenge to Wickard v. Filburn. If that misbegotten piece of FDR's statist agenda were overturned, the weight of the federal boot on people's necks would decrease by 80%.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The anti-Trumpers are their own worst enemy. Trump is kooky, but they make him out to be dangerous, and all the public sees is that crazy harmless uncle show shows up at Thanksgiving and makes a fool of himself. The kids think he's funny and they like how he upsets the boring grownups (the media hacks and general purpose Congress Critters) and especially the boring uptight ones (Hillary!) who won't let Christmas presents be opened until the afternoon, and then strictly in rotation.

    The more they faint over him, the sillier they look, and meanwhile Trump keeps rolling along, ignoring them, having his fun, and after a year of fainting spells, the public has learned to just ignore them.

    Of course there are plenty of hardcore anti-Trumpers, but he got his support by upsetting the boring adults, and he's consistent.

    No idea how it will affect 2018 or 2020 elections, or whether he will even want a second term. But his base likes how he upsets the apple cart, the fence-sitters see he hasn't been nearly as bad as the adults said he would be, and I bet he ends up being a lot more popular than people expect.

  • Michael Hihn||

    and all the public sees is that crazy harmless uncle show shows up at Thanksgiving and makes a fool of himself.

    Does YOUR crazy uncle average over 5 lies a day, for over 300 days?
    If the President of the United States is "harmless," then that's why his tribe is THE most ridiculed in America.

    And his approval rating is .... remind us.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Hello Mr. Hihn. How are you this evening?

  • damikesc||

    Does YOUR crazy uncle average over 5 lies a day, for over 300 days?

    Hell, that's amateur hour level of lying compared to his predecessor. And THAT guy lied about important shit.

  • Microaggressor||

    You mean crowd sizes aren't important? What kind of monster are you?

    Whether I can keep my doctor if I like my doctor, on the other hand, well, there's plenty more fish in the sea.

  • Bacon-Magic glib reasonoid||

    Hihny are you someone's crazy uncle?

  • Holmes IV||

    We all know this to be true...

  • Sevo||

    "Does YOUR crazy uncle average over 5 lies a day, for over 300 days?"

    Lifted that right out of some bullshit site like Vox, did you?
    I didn't vote for the guy, but handling out lies like that simply proves you're a pathetic piece of shit. Go take your meds.

  • CE||

    5 lies a day is pretty low for any politician

  • Hugh Akston||

    Trump keeps rolling along, ignoring them

    If there's one thing Trump is known for, it's ignoring his detractors in favor of a laser-like focus on his agenda.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, he's hard to distract, isn't he?

    If the left had any sense, they'd stop trying to play gotcha and use Trump's ADHD to their advantage come campaign season. But it's hard to use reason against Trump when you're batshit insane yourself.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Even as CNN talking heads remain in shock that Donald Trump is actually president

    Moving along. Nothing here.
    Just an echo of Fox.

  • Microaggressor||

    If Fox takes a position, then it's not worth considering.
    Great critical thinking skills there, Michael.

  • BestUsedCarSales||


    full drunk-uncle on an international scale

    I dream of someone saying that about me some day.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    You're full drunk-uncle on an international scale.

    ...wait, you just meant you wanted someone to say the words, right? Or did you actually mean you wanted them to be true one day? Because if it's the latter, I guess all my response did was just further remind you of how far you are from ever actually achieving that goal, thus arguably compounding your feelings of inadequacy and frustration.

    Oops.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's okay. Cutting helps release the angst.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    It's releasing your sanguine humor, you anti-science primitive. As anyone with any respect for the last 2,000 years of scientific consensus could tell you, treating depression requires reducing the black bile. My prescription is to double your daily regimen of muriatic acid enemas and/or HuffPo comment section viewing immediately.

  • dantheserene||

    The last administration ruled by "Presidential Action" (Executive Orders and the like) and OMB memo. I used to make sure I checked for updates every Monday, and especially after holidays since releasing bad news contrary to the news cycle was a signature move.
    The current administration has issued three OMB memos this fiscal year. In FY 2017 up to the inauguration, the previous administration had produced 15.

  • Iheartskeet||

    I think the big question is how this evenhanded and well done article got published without the obligatory Mangu-Ward Trump 2 minute hate added on somewhere.

  • CE||

    To be sure, Trump's style has riled some....

  • Bacon-Magic glib reasonoid||

    JD you are one of the few worth reading on here.

  • Holmes IV||

    I'd be interested who else falls into this category for you. Who else do you appreciate and why?

  • Bacon-Magic glib reasonoid||

    Scott, Ed, Ron, Matt(less and less now but still good writer), and very small amounts of the Jacket and Katmanguu.

  • Bacon-Magic glib reasonoid||

    Almost forgot Judge N.A.P.? and Stachey Stossel.

  • ||

    I only read ENB's articles for the pictures.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Amen to that. One of the VERY few.

    You can tell who the real libertarians at Reason are because they all drive crazy old Michael Hihn Insane.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Toochill is indeed the man at Reason.

  • Ecoli||

    Trump has been even better than I thought he would be. We might have to clone him so that he can be emperor for the remainder of this century. The Trump dynasty!

  • SIV||

    2 chili didn't get the reason memo. "Trump promised to Increase regulations but is so incompetent he accidentally cut them and can't be credited for this totally unforseeable outcome"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "People don't like to be told what to do. I get that. But we do not even have close to enough regulations," he griped.

    I guarantee you this is a guy with a particular axe to grind with a neighbor.

  • dantheserene||

    I assumed he was fictitious. A farmer who doesn't think there's enough regulation?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He's a niche farmer, it appears. He sells to select businesses which cater to stores and restaurants touting "natural and humanely raised" meat.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Regulations always do precisely what they are intended to do, which is always to help and protect people against bad things, which is why there should be more regulations. Ask anyone who doesn't like thinking too much about the nature of power (which is most people).

  • Holmes IV||

    "It's not unfair to suggest that the goodies and the red tape are something of a package deal..."

    I don't think this follows. Now, I agree that they should both be done away with. It doesn't make sense to me, however, that the give aways and the regulations go hand in hand. In fact, you could easily have one without the other -- Lots of regulation with no give aways is awful, but possible, as is give aways with minimal regulations.)

    But can someone (who writes like an adult -- so no Hihn, and who thinks like an adult -- so no ALWAYS RIGHT or any of the other trolls/authoritarians) explain to me why 2Chilli says that these must go together?

    (Again, to be clear, I agree with his conclusion that the both need to go, I am just trying to understand his argument.)

  • Citizen X - #6||

    It may be a reference to one of the Iron Rules. "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have."

  • ||

    But can someone (who writes like an adult -- so no Hihn, and who thinks like an adult -- so no ALWAYS RIGHT or any of the other trolls/authoritarians) explain to me why 2Chilli says that these must go together?

    It feels like I've had this conversation before but, 'going hand in hand' and 'package deal' are not synonymous to me. 'Hand in hand', to me, says the things are intrinsically connected and cannot normally be separated while 'package deal' indicates two things that are distinct and can be/are distributed individually but are frequently bundled to enhance their appeal.

  • KevinP||

    Thank you, President Trump.

  • CE||

    "Dismantling government" so it only spends 4 trillion dollars per year?

  • Rockabilly||

    ..................and Hillary Clinton will never be president !!!

    ahahahahahhaa

    fuckin A !!!!

    ahahahahahahahahhahahahaaaaaaa

    Butt-Hurt Crying Hillary Voters Compilation

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grD_IINiH9c

  • maddarter||

    Iowa unemployment was about 2/3 of national average in 2014 and 2015, so maybe regulations were not job killing do good.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    You don't know much about Iowa, do you dipshit? You seem too dumb to find it on a map, amirite?

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    The EPA WotUS rules are complete and total bullshit. They tried a 70 something codger here in MT for digging ponds that encroached on Fed ground 50 miles from anything bigger than a small creek. In front of a federal judge, FFS. People don't realize how these regs give federal assholes carte blanche to fuck with them. So I'll give Trump credit here. The progs are foaming at the mouth to get the train rolling again. As much of a dickweed Trump is it can and will get worse when some cunt like Gillenbrand or Harris takes the reins.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Not only claiming sanction over "unlikely wet patches of ground" but, I've read, also over puddles and even furrows mis-labelled as "mini-mountains."

    The mendacity of government officials in claiming turf and jurisdiction is, clearly, outrageous

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online