- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2017

The only area where President Trump has chalked up big wins on his economic agenda so far has been the rollback of what he calls “job-killing regulations,” but that has been enough to quickly bolster confidence across the manufacturing sector and help revive the coal industry.

Aero Tech Manufacturing Inc., a precision sheet metal shop in North Salt Lake, Utah, is now on the hunt for workers to restart a second shift that it discontinued in 2007.

Sam McCashland, Aero Tech’s vice president of manufacturing, said regulations were not a major concern for the company, but whatever was happening with the economy was flooding them with orders.

“[Customers] don’t order anything until they need it, and they need it tomorrow,” he told The Washington Times. “The impact of Mr. Trump getting in is we are getting a lot more of that. Everyone wants everything right now.”

A second shift has the potential of doubling the number of hourly factory workers from 75 to about 130.

Similar stories are told throughout the country. More CEOs are investing in equipment and hiring, creating an economic chain reaction.

Federal regulations siphon an estimated $4 trillion a year out of $18 trillion in the U.S. economy. However, the immediate impact of fewer federal rules — and less fear of the future — is difficult to gauge in many industries.

The rollback of regulations has had the most immediate impact on the coal industry after Mr. Trump revoked Obama-era rules to combat climate change.

Last week, Corsa Coal Corp. opened its first new deep mine in Pennsylvania in six years.

CEO George Dethlefsen said Mr. Trump’s deregulation effort had brought jobs back to the struggling coal economy in western Pennsylvania.

Speaking at the opening ceremony via satellite, Mr. Trump said, “Washington may be 180 miles down the road, but I want you to know each and every day I’m fighting for you and all the forgotten men and women of America.”

Alpha Natural Resources announced the opening of a new mine in West Virginia. The company hosted a job fair in a community where just months ago layoffs were the norm.

“The effort to fill several open positions in our Central Appalachia operations and the new Panther Eagle mine are the result of several factors. First, the president’s positive sentiment toward coal, along with Mr. Trump’s emphasis on infrastructure and economic growth have been good for the coal industry as a whole,” said Alpha Natural Resources spokesman Steve Hawkins.

The National Association of Manufacturers said the Trump administration’s deregulations have played a major role in boosting business confidence to a 20-year high.

“One of the biggest changes is the trajectory of regulatory burdens over the course of this presidency,” said Rosario Palmieri, the association’s vice president of labor, legal and regulatory policy.

He pointed to Mr. Trump’s executive order that required every new regulation to be accompanied by the elimination of two regulations, resulting in a net reduction in regulations for the first time in U.S. history.

“That’s the most significant change of direction in policy that we’ve ever seen,” he said. “It is already having an effect, but you’re likely to see more of an effect in future years as these deregulatory actions take place.”

Mr. Trump went after federal regulations as soon as he took office. It was one of the few areas where Democrats couldn’t block him. With the help of Republican majorities in both chambers, the rarely used Congressional Review Act allowed him to put the brakes on 14 rules adopted in the final days of the Obama administration.

The review act had been used successfully only once before, when President George W. Bush nixed a Clinton-era Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that would have forced employers to take steps to safeguard workers from ergonomic injuries.

The Trump administration also aims to trim reams of rules affecting environmental permits, workplace safety and unions.

Amit Narang, who tracks federal regulations at the watchdog group Public Citizen, said deregulation doesn’t create jobs but does threaten health and safety.

“It’s false for President Trump to claim that rolling back regulations boosts job growth, and he has very little evidence to point to now,” he said.

The lifting of regulations on coal mining was particularly troubling, he said, because it protected a dying industry that was being replaced by cheaper natural gas and was contributing to climate change.

“They are going to have to rig the market, frankly, against oil and gas in order to bring back coal because it is market forces that are destroying coal jobs, not regulations,” he said.

Still, deregulation plays a role in much of Mr. Trump’s jobs agenda.

When he announced an apprenticeship and job-training initiative Thursday, deregulation was front and center.

“We will be removing federal restrictions that have prevented many industries from creating apprenticeship programs,” said Mr. Trump. “We have regulations on top of regulations, and in history no one has ever gotten rid of so many regulations as the Trump administration. That’s one of the reasons you see the jobs and the companies all coming on so strongly.”

He signed executive orders that loosened federal restrictions on job training programs and encouraged partnerships between businesses and colleges to train young people for an array of jobs that employers struggle to fill.

The administration dubbed it the “Workforce of Tomorrow” program.

The on-the-job training and earn-as-you-learn programs are intended to prepare students for rewarding careers, including high-tech jobs operating state-of-the-art machinery.

The programs also will offer young workers alternatives to the massive student loan debt associated with four-year college degrees, according to the administration.

Mr. Trump said workers needed better skills for the jobs being created. He touted the economic progress.

“We have a lot of companies moving into this country. You see the unemployment rate is at a very, very low level. Job enthusiasm and manufacturing business enthusiasm is at record levels — never been higher,” said the president.

“A lot of good numbers are coming out, including almost $4 trillion in gain to the stock markets since the election — $4 trillion,” he said. “We’ve got it going. We have to make sure the people are here and they’re going to be well-trained. We’re training people to have great jobs and high-paying jobs.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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