- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2017

President Trump’s assault on red tape has saved businesses nearly $4 billion per year compared with former President Barack Obama’s pace of imposing regulations, a new study found Tuesday.

Final rule costs during Mr. Trump’s first six months in office will cost U.S. businesses about $378 million per year, compared with $4.2 billion for the same period of Mr. Obama’s presidency, according to the conservative American Action Forum.

“The results are substantial,” said Dan Goldbeck, an analyst at AAF who prepared the report. “New regulatory burdens are a fraction of those established under President Obama’s first six months; overall regulatory volume has slowed to historically low levels; and a number of notable deregulatory measures have been initiated.”

Compared with the Obama administration, Mr. Trump has imposed 5 percent of the lifetime costs on businesses, 9 percent of the annual costs and 12.5 percent of the employee hours required for paperwork, the study found.

Mr. Goldbeck said the administration’s full impact on cutting regulations is yet to come. He noted that federal agencies have published proposals to roll back the Obama-era rules on “Waters of the United States” and hydraulic natural-gas drilling known as “fracking” that could collectively save about $350 million annually.

“Both the volume and impact of new regulatory burdens have slowed dramatically,” Mr. Goldbeck said. “Beyond these first six months, the administration’s ambition is clearly to go even farther and deeper.”

Corporate leaders and economists say the regulatory rollback has contributed to an optimistic business climate that has seen employers add more than 1 million jobs so far this year and contributed to a 20-percent rise in the stock market.

A measure of U.S. small-business confidence rose in July, helped by strong hiring and an improving economic outlook, the National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday.

The group’s Index of Small Business Optimism rose to 105.2 from 103.6 in June, the first such increase since January.

“Strong consumer demand is boosting small business optimism,” NFIB President Juanita Duggan said in a statement. “Small business owners are feeling better about the economy because their customers are feeling better about the economy.”

Mr. Trump promised last year to cut regulations by as much as 70 percent to boost economic growth. While the financial impact of cutting regulations on companies has been modest so far, many business chiefs say the administration’s rollback also has signaled that it plans to impose fewer regulations in the coming months.

Last month, the White House budget office said the administration had withdrawn or delayed 860 proposed regulations to boost economic growth.

Federal agencies withdrew 469 proposed regulations, including 19 with an economic impact of $100 million or more. Another 391 regulations were delayed for further evaluation.

Agencies expect to complete more than 1,700 regulations this year, roughly a 20-percent cut compared with last year.

Mr. Trump said during the presidential campaign that he could cut up to 70 percent of regulations. Shortly after taking office, he issued an executive order directing federal agencies to create task forces to reduce regulations, and ordered that two rules be cut for every new regulation created.

Republican lawmakers used the Congressional Review Act to overturn 14 regulations that the Obama administration had completed in its final months. The seldom-used law allows Congress a 60-day window in which to revoke regulations completed during the previous administration.

Among the Obama rules erased permanently were requirements on teacher training, coal mining runoff and bear hunting in Alaska.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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