Has Trump unraveled the administrative state?

Yesterday on Breitbart.com, Sean Moran breathlessly proclaimed that President Trump unraveled the administrative state, to “reduce regulations and unleash American jobs”, in 20 ways.

The 20 measures are:

  1. In January, Trump signed an executive order that would cut two regulations for every new regulation proposed. Trump stated, “If there’s a new regulation, we have to knock out two.”

Ok, let’s stop there. It should be clear to everyone, including a Trump propagandist like Moran, that this move by Trump is simply a gimmick. Even if administrative agencies follow this order, which I doubt they will, what would stop them from deleting two tiny rules with one monstrous one?

As far as I can tell, nothing.

2. President Trump signed an executive order advancing construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, previously blocked by the Obama administration. Subsequently, the Trump administration approved the construction of both pipelines.

Ok, Trump signed off on some pipelines. Great! But I’m not aware of Trump proposing to drastically reduce the environmental review process. All he did was sign off on pipelines that went through a laborious approval process. The process itself hasn’t been touched.

3. Trump signed an executive order in February known as “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.” The order will create regulatory watchdogs that will find new onerous regulations to eliminate. Trump said that “every regulation should have to pass a simple test: Does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers? If the answer is no, we will be getting rid of it and getting rid of it quickly.

The whole premise behind regulations is that regulators believe such rules make life better or safer for American workers or consumers. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have written, let alone passed, the damn rules! And if lawyers for regulatory agencies are good at anything, it’s providing arguments that provide sufficient justification for rules that, in the end, reduce choice for, and increase costs to, consumers.

4. Trump signed a bill that rescinds the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband privacy rule that many scholars argue are duplicitous and onerous. Critics of the rule, including FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, argue that the Federal Trade Commission would be better suited to protect consumer privacy than the FCC. Katie McAuliffe, executive director for Digital Liberty, said this broadband rule “was a power grab under the guise of privacy.”

Ok, now we’re getting ridiculous. Rather than arguing that broadband providers should best determine how to provide their services to customers, the argument is which agency should regulate broadband providers. This is arranging deckchairs on the Titanic stuff.

5. Trump signed J.Res. 58, which overturns the Education Department’s rule that relates to how teacher training programs are assessed. The Washington Post explained the rule’s unpopularity: “Teachers unions said the regulations wrongly tied ratings of teacher-training programs to the performance of teachers’ students on standardized tests; colleges and states argued that the rules were onerous and expensive, and many Republicans argued that Obama’s Education Department had overstepped the bounds of executive authority.”

While it is good that this rule has been rescinded, all Trump did was sign legislation Congress passed. Meanwhile, the Department of Education, which Republicans have promised to eliminate since its creation in 1977, still exists.

I could go on to address the other 15 steps, but hopefully readers will get the picture.

While these steps aren’t harmful, they are nowhere near addressing, let alone unraveling, the administrative state, which suffocates businesses and consumers alike.

So far, Trump’s actions towards the administrative state has been underwhelming. There’s just not much there there.

Syncophants publishing pablum that attempt to say the opposite doesn’t change that.


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