The Trump Administration's Real Deregulatory Record

As is so often the case, Trump's claims are not matched by Trump's actual record.


President Donald Trump likes to take credit for record levels of deregulation and resulting gains in economic growth. Among the Trump Administration's accomplishments listed on the White House web site are "record" reductions in regulatory burdens, and the President has claimed his deregulatory initiatives are saving American families $3,000 per year. But do these claims hold up to scrutiny?

A new report issued from the Penn Program on Regulation at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Deregulatory Deceptions: Reviewing the Trump Administration's Claims About Regulatory Reform by Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, and Stuart Shapiro, casts doubt on Trump's deregulatory boasts.

In an essay published at The Regulatory Review, Coglianese, Sarin and Shapiro summarize their findings:

what has the Trump Administration really accomplished when it comes to regulation?

The answer is much less than the Administration has claimed—and much less than probably most members of the public would surmise. In a report released today, we attempt to match up the claims the Administration has made about its deregulatory accomplishments with what the evidence actually shows. Drawing in part on new data we compiled from over the last four years, we find that virtually every major claim the Trump Administration has made about deregulation is either wrong or exaggerated. The reality is that the Trump Administration has done less deregulating than regulating, and its deregulatory actions have not achieved any demonstrable boost to the economy. . . .

We collected our own data from the underlying records that federal agencies maintain of their regulatory agendas. Since 2017, these agendas have included a designation for whether an agenda item was deregulatory or not. We looked at all the completed actions in this database, putting aside actions completed by withdrawing (but not finalizing) proposed rules as well as those actions taken by independent agencies (which are not even included in the Administration's own lists).

Our results reveal a portrait of activity completely at odds with the Administration's deregulatory mantra. We find three new completed actions in these regulatory agendas for every one that is labeled deregulatory. When we look at just economically significant actions, even on assumptions favorable to the Administration, we find only one deregulatory action for every one action labeled as regulatory.

When it comes to what difference this activity has made for the economy, we find again that the Administration's claims have been unfounded or exaggerated. Vice President Mike Pence has said that "we've saved $220 billion in our economy," while President Trump has asserted that "our historic regulatory relief is providing the average American household an extra $3,100 every single year." These claims appear to be based on a report issued by the Trump White House's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). Even if that report is taken at face value, it does not support the President's or Vice President's statements. The economic gains presented in the CEA report were never meant to show any boost that the economy already received or is currently receiving. Rather, the CEA's numbers purport to estimate what the economy might gain in the future—as much as possibly 10 years down the road.

The study's authors conclude, "The Trump Administration has been more effective at deceiving the public about its achievements than in actually using deregulation to boost the economy."

There is no question the Trump Administration has been more resistant to federal regulation than its recent predecessors, and federal agencies have scaled back planned regulatory activities where allowed by law—and that is a key qualification. Much federal regulatory action is compelled by federal statutes, and those same statutes make broad-scale deregulation quite difficult. Yet because the Administration has not pursued legislation, its ability to remake the federal administrative state has been quite limited. Moreover, many attempts to deregulate (or even delay eventual regulation), may yet be overturned in court, meaning that the Trump Administration's ultimate deregulatory record could be even more meager than it appears today.

Administrative law is not for the faint of heart. Major changes in federal regulations require extensive work in the agency trenches and engagement with the underlying statutory frameworks that authorize, and often compel, federal agency action. With few exceptions, this is work the Trump Administration has been unable or unwilling to do. As a consequence, the Trump Administration's regulatory record has been far less impressive than advertised, and should provide proponents of deregulation less reason to support the President's reelection.

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  1. I am shocked, shocked I say to learn that Trump and the Trump administration are engaging in lying, prevarications, and outright dishonesty in the belief that no one will bother checking up on them, or, if they do, it will soon be forgotten in another avalanche of lies.

    Next up: dog bites man.

    1. You will note that the study isn’t using the same metric Trump is putting forth on his site. They made up their own that is supposedly “more objective” then applied that standard to say Trump was lying. Nice little “move the goal posts” type argument that passes as an “academic” “study” these days.

      1. Just think, in a few days Trump will have been defeated and Republicans can return to their roots of slaughtering babies in Iraq, shipping jobs to China, and turning Mexicans into Americans! George P Bush in 2024!!!! 😉

      2. I am constantly amazed at the lengths that some people go to in order to defend Trump. I mean, this is a person that was well-known for his complete hatred of the truth long before he became President.

        You know, don’t you, that he regularly lied about verifiable facts, like the number of stories, or the size of his buildings (ahem). Not to mention when he would call tabloids and pretend that he was someone else to brag about his sexual prowess and affairs!

        Did I say amazed? More like … saddened. It’s amazing AND sad to know how many rubes there are. Then again, someone had to buy his steaks, or go to his “University,” or believe that his charity was a charity and not a slush fund, or think he was a successful businessman.

        Yeah, it’s hard to admit you’ve been conned. But denial isn’t helping you any.

        1. Says the rube that was conned by the fake news media. Of course you are amazed because you are told more and more fanciful lies by the state run media.

          1. “Of course you are amazed because you are told more and more fanciful lies by the state run media.”

            Fox News seems likely to discontinue state-run programming shortly.

          2. If these lies are so obvious, then where is your evidence of such, Jimmy?

            Surely you don’t just have pouting as a strategy to convince others of the truth you supposedly possess?

        2. From the OP itself

          “There is no question the Trump Administration has been more resistant to federal regulation than its recent predecessors, and federal agencies have scaled back planned regulatory activities where allowed by law”

          You’re right man, Trump is unquestionably far better but not quite as much as some cutoff at regulation according to some random study which makes him Joseph Stalin. So I’m going to support an unquestionably far worse candidate who will double down on the slave cake bakings and mandatory sex hormones for 8 year olds and other regulations far more because as a deregulation fanatic thats the most sensible thing to do!

          1. AmosArch, as usual, is missing the point.

            The trouble with Trump and his administration is that he just lies reflexively. That is his modus operandi.

            So, instead of saying, “My building has fifty floors,” Trump would say, “My building has over 70 floors, the bestest and tallest building ever, and much taller than all the buildings around it.”

            Now, he would say that even if it was demonstrably untrue. Even if you could go see the building plans and know it was false. Or count the number of floors. Or visually see buildings next to it that were taller.

            Same here. It’s not enough for Trump to say something about regulation. He has to make stuff up. And you and your ilk leap to defend the obvious BS. Because you are the marks.


            1. As opposed to the track record of honesty that his opponent carries with him?


              1. “What about” is the only response Trumpers have.

                Because even you know, deep, deep down inside where you don’t like to look, that Trump is a liar of a magnitude never before seen in our country.

                So instead of facing the facts about your guy, you have to cry ‘what about ?’


        3. Oh, come on. Who are you going to believe? Trump and his supporters or your own lyin’ eyes and ears?

      3. Right, Jimmy.

        It’s obviously better to take Trump’s own evaluation of his performance rather than an outside analysis. I mean, otherwise, you might have to question your cult beliefs.

        1. Yeah a clear objective outsider here. Glad we were able to get their clearly biased take on the situation. What a ray of sunshine!

          1. Ad hominem. You haven’t managed to touch his point. Trump’s own evaluation of himself is not a good metric.

            1. Trump’s evaluation of his own goals is about as useful as the evaluation of a clear anti-Trumper.

              1. Jimmy the Dane has now perfected both sides-ism!

                “The truthfulness of the congenital liar and the one who is not a liar is roughly equivalent.”

        2. When I want an objective opinion of Obama I visit Breitbart because its obviously more neutral than if I took his own word for it.

          1. That you think that the entire non-Breitbart media is basically the mirror image of Breitbart is an impressive lack of perspective.

            1. Breitbart is a bit more honest and more willing to look at an issue more thoroughly than the NY Times, CNN, WaPo, MSNBC, etc

              1. Right, because anything positive about Trump must be true, and everything negative about him must be false.

                It’s scary what some of you are willing to believe without evidence, and even more frightening what you ignore despite evidence.

        3. I’m not going to take Trump’s word for it, or any politician for that matter. But I can clearly see he has had a positive effect.

          The choice I have as a voter isn’t two candidates pushing deregulation, and I have to choose which will be the most effective. The choice is between one candidate that thinks we are under-regulated and who’s agenda will regulate out of business the oil industry, the entire gig economy starting with Uber and Lyft, and move on to the beef and airlines. And I won’t be able to drive the car or truck I would choose.

          Contrast that with Trump’s imperfections and prevarications about his de-regulatory accomplishments, and Trump is still the clear winner.

          1. Trump . . . a winner in the hearts of Kazinski and other clingers, but an emphatic loser among most Americans (the liberal-libertarian mainstream).

          2. OK, Kazinski.

            I disagree with you on the policy, but at least you aren’t being conned by Trump’s claims about deregulation.

  2. “not for the feint of hard”

    Wow, a putdown of Trump that is both ribald and elegantly clever.

  3. Administrative law is not for the feint of hard.

    What is this…a Biden malapropism?

    1. It should be “faint of heart” right? Not “feint”?

      1. One must be alive to puns, and a certain obsession that insecure men have, and that women and secure men don’t have . . .

  4. “and should provide proponents of deregulation less reason to support the President’s reelection.”

    Now do Biden/Harris. I’m sure their favored position of “regulate everything” will not be a reason to oppose them?

    1. Yeah, the record of people who have never been President!


      1. Biden was Obama’s VP, so let’s compare Trump to Obama.

        The Obama EPA passed numerous, sweeping, and often poorly thought out regulations that spanned hundreds of pages yet often then devolved into lengthy paperwork exercises. The RMP changes required massive increases in reporting, evaluation, and other such items, but from my personal evaluation, I would say would save precisely zero lives. Even in theory, I don’t see how any of the changes would help anyone ever.

        The Trump agency hasn’t reversed any of the major policies (aside from modifying the RMP regulation to remove some of the more egregious problems). However, they stemmed the tide and haven’t put out any more.

        We also have to take into account that every step has been challenged, sued, and fought. Courts have taken the position that while Obama ignored the public notice requirements and made rules by simple fiat, Trump would have to go through formal processes to eliminate these regulations, despite the fact that they were never properly implemented.

      2. “Yeah, the record of people who have never been President!


        Really? That’s your retort? How dare I deign to compare the 2 candidates…

        The choice is between Trump and… wait for it… Biden (who was, coincidentally, the VP for 8 years and has been in politics for 47?).

        You really have lost your touch man.

      3. So they are lying about their proposals?

        When Joe and Kamala endorse the Green New Deal that comes with a draconian regulatory agenda.

        I have to take them at their word.

        1. “I have to take them at their word.”

          In fairness, there is at least some possibility they aren’t lying! Which would be a step up from what we are currently suffering through.

          1. In his defense, Trump doesn’t tend to crib notes (or plagiarize, if you’re less generous) from others to bolster his lies. Wish Biden could make similar claims.

  5. Wow, a bunch of law school professors say that Trump isn’t doing stuff. Incredible, trenchant analysis here.

    1. The purity of this ad-hominem is crystalline.


      1. Yes, it was breathtaking.

  6. Considering all the witch hunts, national injunctions, fake news, daily drum beat of anti-Trump media, and everything else the man has had to endure for the last four years I’m surprised he was able to de-regulate anything.

    1. Yeah, poor Trump. He’s like a regular Job, isn’t he?

      Or, as noted theologian Donald J. Trump would put it, “When I go to church and when I drink my little wine and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of forgiveness. I do that as often as I can because I feel cleansed.”

      1. Cleansed? Wasn’t that what you were supposed to get by drinking the bleach?

        1. Injecting!

          1. Funny watching people lie while whining about how somebody else lies. Quite amusing.

      2. He will be canonized…when he dies I will make a regular pilgrimage to Trump Tower to cry next to the soon vacant Gucci store. Saint Don John Trump, patron saint of cooze-hounds and con men. 😉

      3. Remember when people just wanted to see Obama’s actual birth record and not just a computer print out of the database entry? Oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Trump just had to endure that 10,000 times over.

        1. Oh, yeah, Trump … the most transparent President in history!

          How is that “audit” going. You know, the one that (unlike every other modern presidential candidate) prevented him from releasing his records.

          Bonus points for bringing in Birtherism. Oh, wait, all of that was just about wanting to see his birth certificate. Riiiiiiiiight.

          1. President Trump has had the people at the FBI, CIA, SDNY and several state AG offices spying on him and combing through everything for over 3 years now.

            What have they found? Meanwhile, we have a crackhead with national secrets on his laptop leaving them at pillpushers and computer stores.

            1. Oh, Sam. Isn’t there a QAnon board somewhere for you to hit up?


              1. You don’t believe the FBI had opened an investigation into Trump?

                Do you even know there was a whole Special Counsel investigation into him?

          2. He released a list of judges he’d nominate. A markedly more important piece of info than tax returns that moronic journalists couldn’t understand anyway.

    2. Jimmy the Dane : “Considering all the witch hunts… (etc)”

      Let’s go for one snapshot in time, starting very early in Trump’s presidency and running two months :

      •Trump lies, claiming he won the popular vote.
      •The first call with the Australian prime ministers abruptly ends after Trump goes off on an extended rant against him
      •Trump’s press secretary cites a nonexistent “Bowling Green Massacre” to justify the travel ban
      •Reminded Putin is a murderer during a Fox interview, Trump replies : “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
      •Trump doesn’t bother with a briefing before a Putin call. He needs to ask aides what the New Start Treaty is during the call
      •In a meeting with GOP senators, Trump claims busloads of people from Massachusetts voted in New Hampshire
      •Trump announces he supports Beijing’s “One China” policy; China awards the Trump Organization valuable rights in a ten-year trademark deal
      •Jared Kushner meets with Time Warner execs to complain about CNN’s coverage. Time Warner has a pending merger w/ AT&T requiring government approval
      •Trump pledged no new overseas deals during the campaign; his sons now announce a new Dubai golf course
      •Trump cites a nonexistent terrorist attack in Sweden to justify his policies.
      •Trump claims Obama organized protests against GOP lawmakers
      •The OMB director claims Obama falsified job numbers
      •Reuters reports Russian oligarchs invested 100 million in Trump South Florida properties.
      •While the cameras roll, Trump refuses to shake Angela Merkel’s hand
      •A federal judge approves a $25 million settlement to students defrauded by Trump University
      •The Trump administration deletes scientific data on climate change from government websites
      •Ivanka is granted China trademarks during a dinner with President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago
      •Trump sabotages years of work on a proposed move of the FBI from downtown DC. The move would open up space for competitors near Trump’s hotel

      That’s just two months & hardly complete. And you can make a similar list mixing lies, corruption and incompetence from pretty much any two months in Trump’s presidency. Kinda makes whining about unfair coverage look pretty damn stupid, huh?

    3. It’s amazing he had the time between his golfing, watching Fox News, and tweeting!

      1. In fairness, neither knowing nor caring what is going on is not a deterrent from lying.

  7. President exaggerates his accomplishments!

    Name a President who hasn’t.

    1. Calvin Coolidge? 🙂

    2. Clinton! I win.

      He tried to convince us that he never accomplished having an affair with an intern. And it almost worked!

  8. In a world where reducing a federal agency’s budget increase gets counted by politicians on both sides as a “cut”, merely slowing the rate of increase of regulation counts as the most deregulatory administration in living memory.

  9. “should provide proponents of deregulation less reason to support the President’s reelection.“

    Because proponents of deregulation will have better chances with a Biden/Harris win?

  10. Reap story starts in the 10th graf.

  11. I don’t know about deregulation but the study pushes the DNC talking point that the great economy was created in the Obama administration and Trump tries to take credit for it.

    I don’t think Presidents have much to do with economic growth generally but the authors seem to think it’s a big deal:

    Indeed, the pace of overall growth in GDP actually slowed somewhat during the Trump Administration relative to the last three years of the Obama Administration: As former
    Obama Administration official Steven Rattner has pointed out, “almost exactly 1.5 million fewer jobs
    were created on Mr. Trump’s watch than during Mr. Obama’s final three years.”

    According to the World Bank GDP growth in Obama’s last four years averaged 2.92% with 2016 having 1.94%. In the first three years of the Trump administration GDP growth averaged 4.01%. As to job creation cited by the authors they had to use post-Covid numbers to get there. Not exactly a fair comparison.

    The fact that they would assert something that is obviously false leads me to wonder about the rest of the “study.”

    1. “As to job creation cited by the authors they had to use post-Covid numbers to get there. Not exactly a fair comparison.”

      Just like your hero, you get to pretend events didn’t happen?

      1. But you cannot rationally compare economic problems due to the pandemic to economic status without one.

        If you are comparing two administrations, you need to normalize for events beyond their control. This isn’t even high school level statistical analysis. It’s literally 3rd grade.

        1. You wouldn’t know a proper econometrics model if you tripped on it, Ben.

          Oh, control for events outside of their control! Okay, smart guy. Let’s see you apply your third grade statistical knowledge to that.

          What a moron.

      2. I’m so confused. Is Trump responsible for Covid and the shutdowns which slowed Covid, or did Trump screw it all up and we’re at the end of times, or… ?

        Sorry Democraps, the responsibility of the tanking of the economy via shutdowns falls squarely on your shoulders. And Biden wants to do it nationally, and not just some states. TDS really made y’all stupid.

      3. The whole world economy has crashed due to Covid. Ridiculous to say that Trump is responsible for it. For that matter it would be irresponsible to blame Obama for the big negative growth rate in 2009.

        1. It’s also “ridiculous” to give Trump credit for the first year (or, at least, six months) of his Presidency, because of the lag effect of monetary and fiscal policy.


          I happen to agree with you that the Executive gets too much credit in general for the economy, but you can’t provide arbitrary cutoffs, because then you just end up crediting the President for all the good, and excusing the bad due to other factors.

          Just look now- the Trump administration is attempting to receive the credit for the gains made to the hollowed-out economy that occurred this year!

    2. According to the World Bank GDP growth in Obama’s last four years averaged 2.92% with 2016 having 1.94%. In the first three years of the Trump administration GDP growth averaged 4.01%.

      No. It didn’t.

      According to the World Bank the compound annual rate of growth of US GDP for 2017 through 2019 was about 2.5%.


        GDP growth rate per capita:
        2013 2.92%
        2014 3.63
        2015 3.22
        2016 1.94
        2017 3.50
        2018 5.07
        2019 3.63

        2.93% avg for 2013-2016
        4.07 avg for 2017-2019

        1. Two things-

          1. If you first claim the data based on certain criteria (GDP growth, from the World Bank), then you can’t complain when someone call you on it and then switch the source (to “Macrotrends”) and different criteria (GDP Growth per capita).

          2. While Macrotrends claims to use World Bank data, the GDP per capita growth figures they report are not the same as reported by … the World Bank. For example, 2019 (reporting half of it at the WB). I am sure there is a good reason for it, if I cared more and look into it. But neither is true.

          1. GDP per capita is a more accurate indicator of growth than aggregate GDP and if anything understates growth compared to the aggregate. As to the other Macrotrends is a crypto Trump site and I chose it for that reason obviously.

            1. So what you claimed was World Bank data wasn’t.

              And you switched from GDP to GDP per capita

              And you overlooked this sentence at the macrotrends site:

              Data are in current U.S. dollars.

              Go back and adjust for inflation, which ran about 2-2.5% from 2017 to 2019 and you’ll find those numbers are substantially less impressive. Or just look at the GDP numbers, which are in constant dollars.

              1. Using the numbers you insist on using gets:
                2.33% avg for 2013-2016
                2.49 % avg for 2017-2019
                with a weak 1.57% in 2016 leading up to Trump’s term.

                So Trump did not piggyback on Obama’s great numbers. Same conclusion as with the original numbers I used.

              2. Also complaining about using GDP per capita rather than aggregate GDP is nitpicking. The difference is slight if any but GDP per capita adjusts for the rise in GDP associated with population increase only. So it just keeps the later guy’s numbers from looking better than they would under the aggregate model.

                1. So you’ve gone from a 1.14% difference to a .16% difference.

                  And you assign Trump zero responsibility for 2020, of course.

                  1. I didn’t use 2020 because we’re still in it and so no annual gdp but yes it should be discarded just as 2009 should be discarded for Obama. It is a pandemic after all.

                    I’m not claiming that Trump did something remarkable with the economy. See my first statement about Presidents and their influence on economic growth. I’m saying that the authors, and the Dems in general, have made up this notion that Trump inherited a great economy. 2016 was weak so you can’t say it gave Trump a bounce.

  12. Nevertheless, Trump is probably responsible for more deregulation in his 3.75 years in government than Biden is in his 40+.

  13. Thank goodness, another study suggests.

    It’s a good thing I can come to Reason and let someone spoon-feed me what I’m supposed to think about politicians’ actions, rather than observe and decide for myself.

    What a fucking hack job.

    1. What is your criticism of the study?

  14. “As a consequence, the Trump Administration’s regulatory record has been far less impressive than advertised, and should provide proponents of deregulation less reason to support the President’s reelection.”

    That’s… not how any of this works. I’m not going to support Trump less (or Biden more) on the basis that Trump isn’t as affirmatively good as he claims. Whether his reelection would net a 1% gain in derugulatory actions or a 100% gain, it is still in the black compared to Biden’s promise of economy-destroying regulatory hell.

  15. Could be better, but even half-assed deregulation is better than full-bore full steam ahead! How soon we forget when Obama took over, one regulator’s statement that they were free now from concerns of impact on the economy.

    Which governmental behavior is more concerning to investors’ planning when judging chance of success?

    1. Butbutbut… Trump’s a liar, liar, pants on fire!

      Who cares about actual results or the “crank it up to 11” regulatory plans of the opponent when orangemanbad?

  16. In 2017, the bus market continued to grow, with a 20% increase in volume for all companies combined. However, contrary to what one might think, it is BlaBlaCar that is suffering from the success of Macron buses.
    Before the liberalization of the coach market, carpooling was the only low-cost alternative to the train. The bus presented itself as an equally economical alternative with additional services and comfort: wifi, toilets but above all peace and quiet.
    No more need to find topics for discussion with strangers during a 5-hour carpool!
    On the employment side, a whole section of the economy is being structured, particularly in terms of digital technology. The multiplicity of offers has seen the emergence of comparators. Even if several German or English sites have tackled this booming market, it seems that it is the French that is taking the market leadership. It remains to be seen whether the small tricolor sprout will become the next European BlaBlaCar for buses.

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