(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump trumpeted his effort to slash government rules as “the most far-reaching regulatory reform in history.”
“The never-ending growth of red tape in America has come to a sudden, screeching and beautiful halt,” Trump said Thursday as his administration released its Unified Agenda, a twice-a-year report on the government’s plans for new regulations.
Trump cut a red ribbon between two stacks of paper, a smaller one marked 1960 and a larger one marked "Today,” as Trump said the federal regulatory code had grown from 20,000 pages to 185,000 pages during the period.
The sheets of paper were all blank. A White House spokeswoman said they used blank pages rather than the actual regulatory code so the paper could be re-used.
Early in his administration, Trump ordered that two existing regulations be repealed for any new one put on the books. Trump said his administration had beat the goal, with 22 deregulatory actions for each new regulation. The administration had in its first 11 months canceled or delayed 1,500 planned regulatory actions, he said.
But a Bloomberg News analysis of the earlier version of the regulation report found that Trump and other administration officials had exaggerated claims of cutting almost 1,000 regulations.
The administration counted in its earlier report as canceled hundreds of pending regulations that had been effectively shelved before Trump took office. Others listed as withdrawn are actually still being developed by federal agencies. Still more were moot because the actions sought in a pending rule were already in effect.
The administration didn’t immediately release a detailed explanation of Trump’s most recent claims.
Trump and top administration officials say they’ve rolled back hundreds of regulations that had imposed billions of dollars of regulatory costs. The plan published Thursday detailed additional efforts to eliminate red tape.
Of the 469 regulatory actions the Trump administration said in its earlier report that it had “withdrawn” this year, 42 percent were as good as dead already. Some 180 of them weren’t listed on President Barack Obama’s final agenda of upcoming rules, meaning there were no immediate plans to impose them. In many cases, there had been no activity on them in years, records show. Another 15 had been halted under Obama before Trump took office. At least three more were listed in error or were moot because the rule-making was continuing.
Republicans in Congress did use the Congressional Review Act to knock down more than a dozen regulations enacted during the final months of the Obama administration, ranging from from an Interior Department rule governing runoff from mines to a financial watchdog agency’s rule making it easier for consumers to sue banks and a measure to deter people with mental illnesses from being able to purchase firearms.
The administration has dramatically slowed the adoption of new rules. The White House’s regulation-oversight arm, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, had completed reviews on just 52 final rules through Nov. 29, according to its records. Obama’s OIRA team had finalized reviews on more than four times that many during the same period last year.
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