President Donald Trump believes that unnecessary government regulations that allegedly impede business are what’s holding America back. As an example, meeting with the CEOs of the largest pharmaceutical companies this week, Trump promised to “streamline” the drug approval process — as if the drug approval process were a construct created merely to defy capitalism and steal profits, instead of a safety procedure to keep Americans safe when taking prescription drugs. Carbon emission caps and other safety regulations are viewed through the same lens, as business nuisances rather than as purposeful regulations designed to serve citizens.
Trump has issued an executive order that provides a general formula for eliminating government regulations across all government agencies. It’s a very simple equation: make one regulation, get rid of two. So simple that it seems destined to run afoul of Einstein’s formula, which was equally interested in efficiency. Einstein said “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Trump’s order requires that — across the board — any new government regulation, in order to be approved, must be accompanied by the elimination of two existing regulations. In other words, a new threat from a food-borne illness triggering a new regulation regarding how beef is processed could require the willy-nilly elimination of two regulations that keep chicken processing safe. Here are sections 1 and 2 of Trump’s executive order on reducing regulation:
Section 1. Purpose. It is the policy of the executive branch to be prudent and financially responsible in the expenditure of funds, from both public and private sources. In addition to the management of the direct expenditure of taxpayer dollars through the budgeting process, it is essential to manage the costs associated with the governmental imposition of private expenditures required to comply with Federal regulations. Toward that end, it is important that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process.
Sec. 2. Regulatory Cap for Fiscal Year 2017. (a) Unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.