By Tom Milligan
Despite the all-too-predictable lack of specificity of any kind, the spirit of this Memorandum is far and away the best and most important action our new President has taken so far in his Administration.
It’s no secret that President Obama took great joy in making up – and imposing – new rules and regulations that – at the very least – had the potential to adversely affect manufacturing and other industries.
By the end of 2015, with a full year of his term remaining, the rules and regulations imposed on American businesses by the Obama Administration had added over $100 billion in annual costs – costs which are ultimately borne by the consumer.
But he still had a year to go. And Barry wasn’t even close to being done adding to our burden.
After a record-breaking seven-year regulatory free-for-all, Obama’s Administration issued more ‘Economically Significant Final Rules’ in 2016 than any President in any year in the history of our nation.
Note: In order to qualify as ‘Economically Significant’, rules must meet the definition in Section 3(f)(1) of Executive Order 12866 which is to say the rule must have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.
Why does anyone think Obama was a good President?!
Let’s face it, President Trump has a real opportunity to fix things here. I believe this Memorandum is a good first step.
Other than the obligatory legal crap at the end, this Memorandum is made up of 3 simple paragraphs:
The first paragraph “directs executive departments and agencies (agencies) to support the expansion of manufacturing in the United States through expedited reviews of and approvals for proposals to construct or expand manufacturing facilities and through reductions in regulatory burdens affecting domestic manufacturing.” (emphasis added)
In other words, without offering any guidance as to how to accomplish the directive, Trump is simply telling his people to speed it up.
The second paragraph directs the Secretary of Commerce to conduct “outreach to stakeholders” and to solicit comments from the public for up to 60 days concerning ways the feds can streamline the permitting process and reduce regulatory burdens on manufacturers.
He then directs the Secretary of Commerce to coordinate with “the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and such other agency heads as may be appropriate.”
The primary concern I have with this paragraph is the unclear definition of “stakeholders”.
Does he mean the various Secretaries, Administrators, and Directors he mentioned? If so, that’s a HUGE problem.
Asking a government official to remove, loosen, or weaken regulations is like asking Donald Trump to release his taxes; at first, they claim to understand why it’s important, they make a bunch of promises to follow through, then they downplay their promises while claiming no one really cares, and ultimately, they don’t follow through with their promises because it will shed too much light on the underlying corruption. Sad.
But maybe the “stakeholders” aren’t government officials.
Then who are they?
Are they just a bunch of rich Trump buddies with an official mandate from the President of the United States of America to reduce their burden without any accompanying mandate to reduce ours?
Or are they blue collar Americans who deal with the government-imposed regulatory nightmare every day?
Without knowing who the “stakeholders” are, this entire paragraph may be rendered comical.
The secondary concern I have with this paragraph is the time limit.
Why limit the time the public can offer commentary to a period “not to exceed 60 days”?
What if I have a great idea on day 61? Too bad?
Seems short-sighted at best.
Paragraph 3 orders the Secretary of Commerce to submit a plan to the President – within 60 days after the completion of the directive in paragraph 2 – to streamline Federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens affecting domestic manufacturers.
The plan ordered by Trump must identify priority actions and recommended deadlines for completing actions. In addition, “The report also may include recommendations for any necessary changes to existing regulations or statutes, as well as actions to change policies, practices, or procedures that can be taken immediately under existing authority.”
If you boil away all of the fluff, this Memorandum basically says, talk to the stakeholders (whoever that is), listen to the public for a couple of months, then take another couple of months to come up with a plan and to let me know what that plan is.
Trump is not offering authority to make any regulatory changes (positive or negative), reduce any burdens, or do anything but to somehow speed up the permitting process.
Again, the spirit of this Memorandum is spot on.
I hope the results match the spirit.
I guess we’ll see in a period not to exceed 120 days.