As hard as people try, this is an issue that can’t be wrapped up in a nice, tidy bow. When speaking on this topic, people — mainly those leaning to the conservative side of things — often ask, “Are you for more regulation or less?” They seem to want a one-word answer, but it’s way more complicated than that.
In reality, the only reply to that question should be, “Are we for or against regulation for what?” Are we speaking about small businesses or Wall Street? Or social media, food safety, environmental protection, or the oil and gas industry? Or condo buildings in Florida?
One of the most irresponsible ideas the Trump administration had — enacted by executive order naturally — was the “one in, two out” regulation requirement. This meant that, whenever a federal agency issued one regulation, it was required to take at least two regulations away.
This approach is ridiculous. And, quite frankly, more than a little lazy. Without question, there are outdated and burdensome regulations, but these should be dealt with specifically, not as part of some big monolithic exorcism.
Besides, this strategy didn’t work in the first place. The Penn Program on Regulation (PPR) is located at the University of Pennsylvania — incidentally, Donald Trump’s alma mater — and conducts balanced analysis on regulatory policy.
In an analysis titled Deregulatory Deceptions: Reviewing the Trump Administration’s Claims About Regulatory Reform, they conclude that:
"Deregulation has been celebrated as one of the Trump Administration’s most important economic accomplishments. The Administration suggested both that the magnitude of its deregulatory efforts far outpaced those of prior years and that the economic gains from these efforts were drivers of historic economic and jobs growth, delivering an increase in real income of over $3,000 to each American household.
This report investigates these claims in turn. We find that they are a mix of exaggerated, cherry-picked, and indefensible. Stated simply, the Administration did not roll back regulations at anything close to the rates it has claimed, and households have not gained thousands of dollars annually from these efforts.
Overall, we find that every claim we examine about the Trump Administration’s deregulatory efforts is either wrong or exaggerated. The reality is that the Trump Administration has done less deregulating than regulating, and its deregulatory actions have not achieved any demonstrable boost to the economy.
The positive economic trends that the Administration likes to give deregulation credit for — such as increases in the gross domestic product and decreases in unemployment — had their roots in policies predating the Administration. If anything, the pace of overall growth in GDP has actually slowed somewhat during the pre-COVID years of the Trump Administration relative to the last three years of the Obama Administration.
The Trump Administration has not only exaggerated the positive effects of deregulation, it too often has ignored or downplayed its negative consequences. These adverse effects could be substantial. Although it is too early to assess the overall impact of the Trump Administration’s deregulatory efforts, our research suggests that the Administration may be more effective at deceiving the public about its achievements than in actually using deregulation to boost the economy."
In our minds, there is a different level of acceptable regulation for almost everything. For example, some state and local governments create onerous barriers to upward mobility by making occupational licenses ridiculously difficult to obtain. On the other hand, large corporations, banks and financial institutions could use a little more regulation.
Let’s look closer at two more examples, the first being the electricity fiasco that happened in Texas in February 2021. During that time, temperatures reached as low as −2 °F, the coldest it had been in Texas in 72 years.