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Trump Makes Massive Cuts to Federal Regulations

3 years ago
Charlie Sprang

An executive order gives him the ability to cut any regulations that he believes will slow the economic recovery

By Brian Young
on May 26, 2020

Last week Trump signed Executive Order -13924, which would cut regulations that “impede economic recovery.” The move is part of a decades-long push by conservatives to drastically change the playing field to a more pro-business environment.

At the White House Trump said he is “instructing federal agencies to use any and all authority to waive, suspend and eliminate unnecessary regulations that impede economic recovery,” and then went on to say that he wants to leave it this way implying that he hopes the regulation cuts and the ability of the Executive to continue cutting regulations will be permanent. In arguing for the need to sign the Executive Order, Trump said “We had cases where it would take 20 years to build a highway. You’d have to go through various agencies to get the same permit. I lived with it in the private sector, so I know it better than anybody, where you’d go years and years and years to build a simple roadway or a simple building, and it would end up costing an absolute fortune—many, many times what it should cost.”

The idea to slash regulations isn’t new. Back in 1995 the Libertarian Cato Institute proposed a Citizens Bill of Rights that was like the cuts Trump is proposing. Even Trump’s former rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, praised the move saying “Every regulation that was waived during this crisis should remain waived [and] we should begin repealing the most costly of the major regulations that have accumulated over the past decade.”

While it is a good talking point to say that you cut regulations, what does that really mean? Working people should be concerned that Trump is proposing “creating new rules that will create jobs and prosperity.” When rules are created or regulations are cut to “create jobs” this usually means that corners are cut. When he talks about creating prosperity does that mean creating prosperity for the worker or for the boss? If a building is built significantly faster because they don’t need to get building permits that creates more prosperity for the boss. However that doesn’t help a worker that gets hurt or dies because a corner was cut.

Workers are also coming back into the workforce to a lot of unknowns. Many are fearful of getting sick, yet Trump and his safety departments, like OSHA, have failed to issue guidelines on how to create a safe working environment. Without government regulations, some businesses will make every effort to keep their employees safe, but we also know some won’t. This is ultimately why regulations exist, to police the bad actors in society.

With a repeal of many necessary regulations, job sites will see even fewer inspections and should expect to see employers attempting to cut corners to speed up the job and to keep costs low, especially on non-union job sites.

Trump’s move to give Cabinet Secretaries the power to cut regulations is a continuation of his promise to revoke two regulations for every new one he instituted.

“It feels like a blank check,” said Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen. “It’s encouraging agencies to do sort of an internal dive and decide if they can enforce things. I think they are formalizing what’s been an informal mandate.”

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman also believes that this is the continuation of a long game being played by Trump and his allies in Washington to reduce the level of oversight for the federal government and his big business donors. “Step one: Remove the Inspectors General who keep an eye on wrongdoing at our federal agencies. Step two: Tell the agencies that it’s open season on measures that keep workers, consumers, and the environment safe.”