All the bluster directed toward — and emanating from — the White House these days tends to obscure the actual progress President Donald Trump has made since taking office. And while the president’s approval ratings remain mediocre at best, one segment of the population gives him high marks: the business world.
As the Wall Street Journal noted last week, there’s a one-word explanation for that support: deregulation.
In the wake of the 2016 election, the Weekly Standard explains, President Trump and congressional Republicans set their sights on shrinking the nation’s oppressive and expanding regulatory state. The plan was to use the obscure Congressional Review Act, passed as part of the Republican Contract With America back in 1994. The act lets Congress override any regulation within 60 days of being published.
Prior to this year, the law had been used only once. But Mr. Trump and Congress have tossed out 14 Obama-era regulations in the past nine months thanks to the legislation.
Yes, some regulation is necessary for health and safety purposes. But the American regulatory apparatus has mushroomed into an impenetrable mountain of red tape that discourages entrepreneurship and innovation. Some observers estimate that regulatory costs constrain the economy by an average of 2 percent annually.
On top of the Congressional Review Act, Mr. Trump placed a moratorium on new regulations upon taking office and has utilized directives and executive orders to roll back the rules and regulations of his predecessor. Perhaps the most effective was Executive Order 13771, which requires that two outdated, ineffective or costly regulations be killed before one new regulation can be issued.
As the Weekly Standard points out, another effective mechanism of controlling the administrative state has been a Trump order stipulating that the cost of any new regulations be offset by savings from canceled ones. The two orders have combined to slow the net number of new regulations to practically zero.
The business world has responded enthusiastically. According to the Journal, the government says the economy grew at a 3 percent rate in the third quarter, bolstered partially by business spending on new equipment, which rose at an annual rate of 8.6 percent. In addition, the stock market has been shattering records on a regular basis, as the Dow is up more than 18 percent so far this year.
“Since January of this year, we have slashed job-killing red tape all across our economy,” Mr. Trump said in a speech last month. “We have stopped or eliminated more regulations in the last eight months than any president has done during an entire term. It’s not even close.”
While it’s tempting to discount Mr. Trump’s braggadocio, in this instance, it’s hard to argue with him.