Small government win: Trump outpaces past presidents in slashing the administrative state

· January 3, 2019  
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President Donald Trump
Win McNamee | Getty Images

2018 is now officially in the books. On the regulatory front, supporters of President Donald Trump and small government have something to celebrate, but there’s still a long fight yet ahead.

The Ten Thousand Commandments, the “Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State” from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), is out, and it notes that the number of federal regulations handed down under Trump has reached record lows since records began to be kept in the 1970s, with a total of 3,367 for the year. Obama’s lowest count ever was 3,410. Additionally, the administration has cut down on bureaucratic regulations at a rate of four slashed for every one issued.

In fact, the report notes, the only president to have a better deregulatory year than President Trump in 2018 was President Trump in 2017, with a record low of 3,281 issued regulations and a rate of 22 cut for one issued.

“At year-end 2018, how is President Donald Trump’s regulatory reform project going? Better than Obama, Bush II, and Clinton in terms of fewer regulations; but not as good as Trump’s own first year,” reads a blog post from CEI vice president for policy and senior fellow Clyde Crews.

President Trump has made a concerted effort to cut down on the size and power of the federal bureaucracy, including an executive order sent out during his first 100 days in office that required two regulations to be rescinded for every one new one.

However, there is still work to be done for those who would rather see the bulk of federal policy-making coming from the legislative branch instead of executive bureaucrats. The post from CEI also notes that, even at this record low level, the administrative state still handed down 12 regulations for every law that Congress passed.

“Even in an administration attempting to cut regulation, the number of rules from hundreds of federal agencies (nobody really knows exactly how many) will vastly outstrip the number of laws that Congress passes,” notes another CEI blog post about the index. “That represents the triumph of the Administrative State over the Constitution, and this it even holds under President Trump.”

And Crews also notes that things don’t look much better for federal deregulation with Democrats in charge of the House in the 116th Congress. He writes that “Trump’s next move should be an executive order on regulatory streamlining, with specific emphasis on agency guidance documents, that, while they are not formal regulations, nonetheless can have regulatory effect on the public.”


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Author: Nate Madden

Nate Madden is BlazeTV’s congressional correspondent. Follow him @NateOnTheHill or send tips to nmadden@blazemedia.com.