James D. Veltmeyer, MD
One of the crowning achievements of the Trump Administration over the last three years has been the President’s successful campaign to rollback the excesses and costs of the regulatory state.
By the regulatory state, we refer to the monster of a federal bureaucracy and its alphabet-soup agencies that have suffocated the U.S. economy through an endless stream of unnecessary rules and regulations. Rules and regulations that have served more to empower and enrich the bureaucrats and administrators themselves than serve any real public purpose.
When we think that when the American Republic was founded there were just four cabinet-level Departments: State, Treasury, Justice, and War and now we have hundreds of departments, agencies, bureaus, and commissions imposing their mandates and guidelines upon the American people, the mind just boggles.
Today, we have 15 cabinet-level departments, controlling almost every aspect of our lives from Housing and Urban Development to Energy, Education, and Transportation. Many, if not most, of these departments are Constitutionally-questionable at best as there is no authorization in the Constitution for most of these federal activities.
And, let’s consider how these Departments have actually performed. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 and currently has a budget of $30 billion. Yet, in more than forty years of existence, DOE has failed to produce even one drop of additional energy for the nation’s needs. Instead, it has only served to shackle our energy producers. President Reagan had promised to abolish the Energy Department but failed to do so. President Trump should take this action and transfer the nuclear weapons responsibilities of the Department to the Department of Defense.
The Department of Education was created by President Carter as a payoff to the teachers’ unions for their support in his 1976 campaign for President. Despite spending $66 billion a year, America’s public schools are a national disgrace with collapsing test scores, rampant crime, and declining academic standards.
And, what can we say about HUD? With $47 billion a year at itsdisposal, our homelessness crisis only intensifies while our largest cities are overrun by crime, drugs, and joblessness.
The Federal Register is that unwieldy accumulation of federal rules and regulations written by pampered Washington bureaucrats from the comfort of their cushy D.C. suites. Back in 1936, when Franklin Roosevelt was launching his New Deal revolution patterned after Mussolini’s fascism, there were a mere 2,620 pages in the Federal Register. By the time President Obama took office in 2009, there were 68,598 pages, 34 times as many. Obama and his regulators had a field day during his eight years in the White House, increasing the pages in the Federal Register to 95,894, a jump of 40% by 2016.
Let’s consider the cost of all these regulations to the U.S. economy and U.S. households.
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal regulations in 2016 cost American consumers and businesses almost $2 trillion, 10% of our GDP. If these regulations constituted a distinct country, it would be the seventh-largest economy on the planet, ranking behind India but surpassing Italy.
Federal regulations are a hidden tax passed on to U.S. households through higher prices. The cost: nearly $15,000 per household. The nearly $2 trillion in regulations actually exceeds the $1.92 trillion the IRS collected in both individual and corporate income taxes in 2016.
Now, Congress is supposed to write our nation’s laws. That’s what the Constitution provides for. Yet, in 2016, the 214 laws enacted by Congress were massively outstripped by the 3,853 rules issued by the regulatory bureaucracy. That’s 18 rules issued for every law Constitutionally-enacted by our elected representatives.
The impact on our economy has been dramatic. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimates that if regulations had been held just to the level they were in 1980, our economy would be at least 25% larger today. That’s a loss of $5 trillion and about $15,000 per capita.
With his fervent commitment to economic growth and his background as a businessman who has had to deal with the dead weight of the federal bureaucracy, President Trump targeted federal regulations with one of his first Executive Orders in 2017. In his EO entitled REDUCING REGULATION AND CONTROLLING REGULATORY COSTS of January 30, 2017, the President ordered that at least two old regulations be eliminated for every new one imposed. He’s actually done much better, repealing five old regs for every new one.
This is the most impressive effort to free the U.S. economy from thechokehold of the federal regulators since the Reagan presidency three decades prior. In fact, in just three years, it has gone well beyond Reagan’s attempts to tame the federal dragon.
According to libertarian economist Dr. David Henderson, the Trump Administration’s work on deregulation will result in raising real U.S. incomes by over $3,000 per household. In just his first year in office, the President succeeded in whittling down the size of the Federal Register by 34,000 pages over Obama’s last year, an impressive reduction of 35% and bringing the number of pages down to the lowest level since 1993. He also slashed the number of rules by almost 600 in one year, a 15% cut.
The President’s deregulatory policies have sparked an amazing rebirth of the American energy industry, leading to our nation becoming a net exporter of energy for the first time in decades. It has freed us from dependence on OPEC and unstable and undemocratic Middle East governments. The Environmental Protection Agency – one of Washington’s most obnoxious agencies – has been reined in. The FDA is now approving more and more drugs--especially generics – at a faster pace, bringing down prices and enhancing competition. The banking system which was largely stifled and prevented from making loans due to Dodd-Frank is now operating in a freer environment.
The result of these policies has been the strongest U.S. economy in five decades with record-low unemployment, rising wages, and steady growth. The heavy hand of government is being swiftly lifted from the private sector and for that we can only applaud the Trump Administration and urge it to stay on course in taking on and taking down the job-killing regulatory state.
Dr. James Veltmeyer is a prominent La Jolla physician voted “Top Doctor” in San Diego County in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019. Dr. Veltmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org