Regulatory Rollback

By John McClaughry

On Christmas Day the Wall Street Journal published an outstanding editorial entitled “The Great Rules Rollback”. It began “Amid the debate over tweets and tax reform, perhaps the most significant change brought by the first year of the Trump Presidency has been overlooked: reining in and rolling back the regulatory state at a pace faster than even Ronald Reagan. This is a major reason for the acceleration of animal spirits and faster economic growth in the past year.”

Neomi Rao, the Director of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs , is requiring agencies to submit an annual “regulatory budget.” In fiscal 2018 the budget target is a net reduction in regulatory costs. This, the editors say, “forces agencies to think twice about proposing new rules. And if they do, then they need to eliminate regulatory costs somewhere else. If enforced with rigor, this could be the most important check on the bureaucracy since President Franklin D. Roosevelt invented the modern administrative state.”

The Journal concluded “The far larger impact is lifting the pall of government hassle and arbitrary enforcement from business. In the Obama era, CEOs never knew when or how a federal agency might strike for political reasons, no matter the law. Simply lifting that constant fear has had a liberating effect on risk-taking and investment. The deregulation effort ranks with judicial confirmations and tax reform as the main Trump achievements of the year.”

Not surprisingly, I entirely agree. I only wish we could tackle the same problem here in Vermont – that I have argued for over the past 25 years.

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