The Trump administration, under orders to slash Obama-era regulations, has also issued the fewest new rules since the government began counting them in 1975.
For a third year, Trump’s administration has broken the record for issuing the fewest regulations and rules, a radical departure from the eight years of former President Barack Obama.
According to Clyde Wayne Crews, the regulation expert and policy vice president at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Federal Register published 2,964 final rules.
“This is the lowest count since records started being kept in the mid-1970s,” he said in a blog on the Forbes site.
“It is a notable achievement that all three of the lowest-ever annual rule counts belong to Trump. This an even more significant development given that some of Trump’s ‘rules’ are rules written to get rid of or replace other rules,” he said, explaining that rules are “any federal agency action affecting the public, that’s not a law from Congress as it often should be.”
Rules and regulations are a wonky issue that most political candidates shove aside. But in his 2016 run, President Trump promised to cut regulations and even pledged to slash two old rules for every new one he proposed.
In an irony Crews cited, it takes regulations to cut regulations, so Trump’s count of new rules is even lower than the 2,964 he counted up.
That may have played a part in the higher page count of the Federal Register this year, a calculation that regulation watchdogs use to gauge the regulatory inklings of administrations.
“In other words, even deregulation itself can grow the Federal Register, if aggressive enough, confounding interpretation taken in isolation,” Crews said.
The Federal Register published 72,564 pages for the year. That is 24% below the record set by Obama of 95,894 pages in 2016, as he was implementing a wave of rules before Trump became president.
As for next year, Crews is keeping an eye on policy areas that Trump likes to regulate.
“Trump has numerous regulatory inclinations of his own (antitrust, trade, online speech, workplace social programs, for instance) that do not necessarily (yet) materialize in the Federal Register. The discordant pro-regulatory inclinations of Trump can easily swamp the few tens of billions in claimed savings of his regulatory rollbacks if he does not back off,” he cautioned.
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