The Trump administration is set for another year of regulation trimming, according to federal "regulatory czar" Neomi Rao, who outlined her office's Spring 2018 agenda for regulatory actions to the Free Beacon.
Rao is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which has since the Clinton administration been responsible for managing federal regulations with a significant economic or political impact. Twice a year, OIRA releases an agenda for expected regulatory and deregulatory actions, culled from the proposals of other executive branch offices.
"This spring agenda shows that this administration is well on its way to having another very strongly deregulatory year. There are a lot of new deregulatory actions from the agencies, and we expect that those are going to result in some pretty substantial cost savings," Rao said.
Deregulation has been a major priority of the current administration since day one. Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs." Therein, Trump expressly stipulated that for every new regulation issued, two previously created regulations would need to be cut.
Rao, who previously founded and ran the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University, was brought on as administrator of OIRA to carry out Trump's vision. By all accounts, she has been successful at trimming the size of the bureaucracy: The White House estimated that in its first year it cut 22 regulations for every new one it imposed. This saved taxpayers eight billion dollars over fiscal year 2017 alone, Rao said.
This rollback was a total about-face from the Obama administration, the Free Beacon's Elizabeth Harrington noted, which issued a regulation every three days.
"If you look historically across administrations of both parties, regulatory costs have increased over time. This is a dramatic turn around. We're changing the ordinary inertia at agencies that just favor more regulation," Rao said.
According to Rao, the new deregulatory agenda focuses on several key areas. Infrastructure, a key priority of the administration, is front and center, with much proposed deregulation focusing on easing environmental burdens on new infrastructure projects. These include regulatory changes under the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act, as well a proposal from the nuclear regulatory commission to ease the licensing process for new nuclear reactors.
In addition, the administration intends to pursue deregulatory actions that will encourage private initiative in technological innovation. The Department of Transportation is expected to float new rules about drones, expanding the bounds on air space they can use. Additionally, Rao expects to see deregulation in the private space flight industry, likely a response to major strides by firms like SpaceX.
The Trump administration's deregulatory actions are at least in part responsible for the soaring stock market and record-high job market optimism. The New York Times conceded as much in January, noting that, "A wave of optimism has swept over American business leaders … the newfound confidence was initially inspired by the Trump administration's regulatory pullback, not so much because deregulation is saving companies money but because the administration has instilled a faith in business executives that new regulations are not coming."