President Trump To Cut Regulations By '75 Percent' — How Real Is That? The president greeted business leaders on his first full weekday in office by promising to eliminate three-fourths of federal regulations. Easier said than done. Much easier.
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President Trump To Cut Regulations By '75 Percent' — How Real Is That?

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President Trump To Cut Regulations By '75 Percent' — How Real Is That?

President Trump To Cut Regulations By '75 Percent' — How Real Is That?

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump made an eyebrow-raising claim yesterday. As part of an effort to make America more business friendly, the president said he thinks his administration can eliminate 75 percent or more of government regulations. Three out of every four government regulations can be eliminated, he said. Even conservative economists are skeptical of this idea. Though, Republicans do seem serious about some kind of regulatory reform. Here's NPR's Chris Arnold.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: It's been said that President Trump likes to have an adversary, and at a meeting with the CEOs of big manufacturing companies, the enemy was government regulations that stifle business. Mr. Trump said, quote, "we're going to be cutting regulation massively."

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can't do anything. You can't - I have people that tell me they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product.

ARNOLD: Of course, there are all kinds of government regulations. OSHA aims to keep workers safe. The FDA makes sure we have food that's safe to eat. The EPA protects the environment. Mr. Trump said basically there will be no downside.

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TRUMP: We're going to take care of the environment. We're going to take care of safety and all of the other things we have to take care of.

ARNOLD: And then the president said this.

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TRUMP: We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent, maybe more, but by 75 percent.

ARNOLD: Now, it's a bit unclear what that means. Seventy-five percent of all government regulations, 75 percent of the burden on American businesses overall? We called up the Cato Institute. It's a free market think tank. Peter Van Doren edits Cato's quarterly journal which is called Regulation, and we played Trump's claim for him.

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TRUMP: We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent.

ARNOLD: So what's your take? Is that sort of a realistic statement?

PETER VAN DOREN: (Laughter).

ARNOLD: Or does that make any sense or what's your take on it?

VAN DOREN: Well, it's not - I mean, President Trump - he's about signaling.

ARNOLD: That's how Van Doren describes it.

VAN DOREN: We have all these fancy words for what you might call lying. (Laughter) And so this is a game. And Trump is signaling his supporters that he's serious.

ARNOLD: But Van Doren says no president's been able to undo that many regulations ever, so he says it won't be 75 percent or even massive.

VAN DOREN: I think it's going to be probably somewhere in the moderate to small range.

ARNOLD: Still, many Republicans do have serious ambitions about cutting red tape. Philip Wallach is a political scientist at the more liberal-leaning Brookings Institution. He says lawmakers are introducing bills, for example...

PHILIP WALLACH: The Scrub Act which would create a commission specifically designed to find old regulations that are not worth their costs and get them revised or deleted.

ARNOLD: Wallach thinks there could be some meaningful culling of regulations. He says some of that might be a good thing. And he says Republicans do not have 60 votes in the Senate, so he says Democrats in some cases could block the repeal of what they think are really good regulations. Chris Arnold, NPR News.

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