August 21, 2018

Striking, Streamlining, and Simplifying Regulations


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Republicans have saved Americans at least $50 billion in regulatory costs over the past 19 months – an average of $150 for every man, woman, and child in the country.
  • The Trump administration has repealed or eased 17 major regulations, each of which cost at least $100 million.
  • In addition, the administration is planning future deregulatory moves that will save Americans as much as $175 billion more when fully implemented.

Republicans have racked up an impressive record of accomplishment in rolling back federal regulations. Over the past 19 months, Republicans have saved Americans at least $50 billion and 16 million hours of paperwork. Taxes have been cut and simplified, some of Obamacare’s heaviest burdens have been lifted, and energy production is expanded – all producing the strongest economy in years.

Congress passed 16 Congressional Review Act resolutions to repeal or block Obama-era regulations, accounting for $36 billion of the savings. Trump administration actions saved an additional $8 billion in 2017, and $6 billion so far in 2018. The administration’s proposed future deregulatory actions could save more than $175 billion.

Deregulation Savings by the Numbers

dEREGULATIONS

In fiscal year 2017, the Trump administration issued 67 deregulatory actions and only three new regulations, a ratio of 22-1. This has helped spur small business optimism to record levels.

Noteworthy deregulatory actions

Regulatory reforms are achieving longstanding Republican policy goals, including increased energy production, more health care choices for consumers, and returning decisions to the state and local level.  

Energy and Environment

  • Opening Federal Land for Energy Exploration: President Trump exercised his authority under the Antiquities Act to reduce the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase National Monument by half, allowing for energy exploration there. Congress also opened Alaska’s coastal plain for oil and gas development.

  • Opening Federal Waters for Drilling: In January, the Interior Department proposed opening nearly all offshore waters owned by the federal government to oil and gas leases. This could open as much as $218 billion in energy reserves.

  • Replacing the “Clean Power Plan”: The administration proposed replacing the Obama EPA’s heavy-handed plan to shut down coal-fired power plants, raising energy prices. The new rule would enhance state authority to regulate emissions.

  • Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline: In March 2017, the State Department granted a permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the United States. The pipeline will ultimately transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

  • Freezing CAFE Standards: The administration proposed freezing vehicle mileage standards at 34 miles per gallon by 2021. Without the freeze, standards would increase to an unreasonable 54 miles per gallon by 2025.

  • Fighting WOTUS: The administration proposed repealing the Obama administration’s excessively broad definition of “waters of the United States” that threatened to dramatically increase the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers. While a lawsuit is ongoing, EPA will provide regulatory certainty with a new, clearer rule in coming months.

Commerce

  • Reforming Dodd-Frank: In May 2018, Republicans scaled back some of Dodd-Frank’s most onerous regulations on smaller lenders. This allows smaller banks and credit unions to use more of their capital for loans to families and businesses while preserving consumer protections and rules to maintain the stability and soundness of the financial system.

  • Repealing Net Neutrality: With the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, the FCC overturned utility-style regulations on the internet. Under President Obama, the FCC gave itself the authority to set rates and impose requirements on internet service providers. The new rules reinstate a “light-touch” regulatory framework that had worked well for decades.

Tax

  • Providing Estate Tax Relief: In October 2017, the Trump administration withdrew a burdensome rule that would have imposed higher taxes on family-owned businesses. The Obama administration had proposed limiting the use of discounted valuations, making it more difficult for a family to pass its businesses on to future generations.

  • Cutting and Simplifying Taxes: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut every tax bracket for individuals and families, letting them keep more of their own money instead of giving it to Washington. The law nearly doubled the standard deduction and simplified taxes for 95 percent of Americans who do not have to itemize deductions.

Health Care

  • Expanding Short-Term Health Plans: The administration rolled back restrictions on short-term coverage options. These affordable alternatives can now provide coverage for a full year. The new rule is expected to help 2 million previously uninsured Americans get coverage.

  • Encouraging Association Health Plans: In June, the Labor Department issued a rule to allow small businesses and the self-employed to join association health plans. These plans are free from Obamacare regulations, making them an affordable option. CBO estimates that 4 million Americans will seek this option, including 400,000 people who currently lack coverage.

  • Eliminating the Individual Mandate: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase and maintain health care coverage or pay a tax. Beginning in 2019, the tax penalty of $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of household income will no longer burden American taxpayers.

  • Reducing Medicare Costs: The Trump administration has issued a new rule for in-patient hospital Medicare payments. It removes 18 reporting requirements and “de-duplicates” another 25, resulting in the elimination of more than 2 million administrative hours for hospitals.

Labor

  • Preserving Legal Rights for Employers: In July 2018, the Labor Department rescinded a 2016 rule that would have imposed new disclosure burdens on employers communicating with their lawyers in collective bargaining matters. This will save $93 million per year. 

  • Allowing Drug Tests for Unemployment Insurance: Congress repealed an Obama administration rule that strictly limited states’ ability to require drug testing of applicants for unemployment insurance. States can now design drug testing policies and programs that work best for their citizens. 

  • Minimizing OSHA Red Tape: Under President Obama, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration expanded the time limit for citing businesses for recordkeeping violations – including errors – to five years. The rule empowered bureaucrats but had little to do with reducing workplace injuries. Republicans restored the limit to six months, as defined in law.

  • Medicaid Work Requirements: In January, CMS issued new guidance for state waivers to add work and volunteer service requirements as a condition of Medicaid eligibility. The requirements apply to working-age, non-disabled enrollees. So far, 10 states have gotten the flexibility to identify ways to help enrollees become independent.  

Education

  • Restoring Local Accountability for Schools: Congress voided a far-reaching Education Department rule that dictated how states weigh test scores and graduation rates in measuring school performance. Now states and localities can decide how to hold schools accountable. 

  • Correcting Federal Overreach on State Teacher Programs: Republicans nullified a regulation mandating how states measure the quality of their colleges’ teacher preparation programs. The rule had created a needlessly complex reporting requirement. 

  • Ensuring Access to Vocational Programs: The Trump administration has proposed a repeal of the 2015 “gainful employment” regulation that limits access to vocational degree and certificate programs and imposes heavy reporting requirements on certain types of schools. 

Defense

  • Streamlining Purchase of Commercial Items: The Defense Department implemented a new rule to make it easier for the military to buy commercial items from nontraditional defense contractors. This will reduce paperwork burdens by more than 25 percent. 

  • Simplifying Small Business Subcontracting: In April 2018, the Defense Department implemented a rule making it easier for businesses to manage subcontracting plans with the department. The rule will allow a business with multiple contracts to manage its subcontracting plans together, saving $30 million in unnecessary compliance costs.