Report Card On Trump’s Deregulatory Activity

All but the most ardent followers of regulation usually greet the semi-annual Unified Agenda of Regulatory & Deregulatory Actions with a yawn, but that is not the case with the report the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) issued this morning. The Trump administration is using the Agenda not only to share its planned regulatory and deregulatory actions over the coming year, but also to report on agencies steps towards achieving the president’s deregulation promises. It is clearly proud of its progress on this front; the Agenda is being issued much earlier than in past years (when OIRA has struggled to get it out by December), and is accompanied by a colorful report with flashy graphics.

The big headline fromCutting the Red Tape: Unleashing Economic Freedom is that agencies’ achieved a 12-to-1 ratio of deregulatory-to-regulatory actions in fiscal year 2018, for a net savings of $23 billion (equivalent to about $1.6 billion in annual savings). Let’s look at these more closely.

Billions in savings reported

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contributed more than half of the reported net savings, or $12.5 billion. It issued four regulatory actions and 25 deregulatory actions. About two-thirds of these savings appear to come from streamlined reporting requirements, an observation that is consistent with the UK experience in implementing its 3-in-1-out policy for regulations. According to British experts, “by simplifying forms and processes, compliance became much less costly without any underlying regulatory changes or compromising mission.”

The report claims the Department of Labor saved $3.2 billion from its 11 deregulatory actions, including one that allowed small entities to join together to form groups or associations to provide lower-cost health insurance than is available on the individual or small group market. The Department of Interior’s 18 deregulatory actions are estimated to save $2.5 billion in present value terms and the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate about $1.2 billion in savings each.