In Mr. Obama’s last year in office, he set a record. His administration added over 95,894 pages to the Federal Register. In 2017 Mr. Trump added 61,308. The lowest number since Bill Clinton. In 2018, The Donald’s team added 68,082. Still a record low. But why so many? Didn’t Mr. Trump promise that for every new regulation the pencil pushers had to get rid of two?
The Competitive Enterprise Institute explains.
Rules and regulations cannot be revoked, only replaced by new ones under the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act’s public notice-and-comment process. (And things get even far more convoluted than that.)
So, for Trump to get rid of a rule (recall his directive to eliminate two significant rules for every one adopted) his agencies have to write a rule. So in a perverse sense, he can’t shrink the Federal Register page count and the number of rules, but has managed to do it anyway by writing fewer new regulatory rather than deregulatory ones. Meeting the two for one directive is getting tougher without congressional action as the low-hanging fruit is picked.
You need to write rules to get rid of rules. So, how is Mr. Trump doing despite the handicap?
The Federal Register closed out 2018 with 3,367 final rules in all. The only lower count was 3,281 under Trump a year ago, which was the lowest count since records began being kept in the mid-1970s.
With the US House in Democrat control for the next two years, we’ll get even less action on deregulation than we got from Republicans. But Mr. Trump appears committed to adding as few as he can, even given the limitation put upon him by law.
So, does this count as keeping his promise or not?