Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, once said “the chief business of the American people is business.” While in office, President Coolidge presided over one of the most prosperous times in American history: the roaring twenties. Coolidge was a no-nonsense proponent of limited government. Hence, it should come as no surprise that Coolidge embraced free-market principles such as low taxes and regulations.
A century later, President Donald Trump seems to be following the great legacy of Silent Cal. In the 100 years between their respective tenures in office, much has changed. The regulatory state has ballooned and tax rates have skyrocketed. 2016, Trump won the hearts of mind of American voters because he made a simple promise: to rollback regulations and cut taxes, much like his predecessor, Coolidge.
Trump and the Republican Congress have made great strides in both of these arenas. From the beginning, the Trump administration launched a total war on burdensome regulations. At the same time, he also opened a second front against excessively high taxes. President Trump won a resounding victory over exorbitant taxes when he signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While the battle for lower taxes seems won, Trump’s conflict with the regulatory state is ongoing.
Early on in his presidency, Trump fired the first shot by signing an executive order demanding that for every new regulation enacted, 22 others must be eliminated. In his own characteristically flamboyant fashion (unlike Silent Cal), Trump proclaimed that “The never-ending growth of red tape in America has come to a sudden, screeching and beautiful halt.” True to his word, in his first year Trump’s administration canceled or delayed 1,579 regulatory actions.
To date, Trump’s greatest victory in the regulatory showdown has come in the energy sector. In 2017 alone, Trump pulled out of the disastrous Paris Climate Agreement and signed an executive order to end the Clean Power Plan, although the process is still fraught with government bureaucracy. In 2018, the Trump administration announced that over 90 percent of America’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) would be available for oil drilling. During Trump’s short time in office, the United States has become the world’s leader in energy production. On a related front, Trump slayed the crippling Obama-era rules on fracking. By killing these onerous rules, the U.S is marching toward energy independence.
In less than two years, Trump has eliminated more than a thousand excessive regulations such as the National Television Multiple Ownership rule, Net Neutrality, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measure, the Mandatory Bundled Payments for Cardiac Care and Joint Replacement, the Oil, Gas, and Coal Lease Valuation Rule, and many more. To date, Trump has already cut more regulations than any other president.
Of great importance is that Trump is not only rescinding regulations but also preventing new ones. The Bush and Obama administrations issued approximately 3,000 regulations in their first year, by contrast Trump has produced half that amount.
Surprisingly, Trump has found ways to cooperate with Congress in his mission to cut the regulatory state. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) of 1996 was intended to stop harmful regulations. Under CRA, Congress has sixty days to review a regulation before it is passed on to the president for approval. Before Trump entered the Oval Office, CRA had been used just once! On the other hand, Trump has implemented CRA a staggering 14 times to defeat onerous regulations during his first year in the White House.
Trump’s victories in the war on regulation are producing immense benefits for the American and substantial growth for the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9 percent and jobs are being created at a tremendous rate—164,000 in April alone. During Trump’s tenure, the stock market continues to set new highs. Consumers and businesses report the highest economic confidence levels in decades.
Since the Great Recession (and through the entire duration of the Obama presidency) Americans experienced economic turmoil. Like his forerunner Coolidge, Trump inherited trying economic times. But unlike Obama and other regulatory warriors, Trump understands (like Coolidge) that a thriving economy depends on free-market policies such as low regulations and taxes. If his track record in his first two years is any sign of the things to come, America truly will be “great again.”