The stock market is hitting new highs, the jobless rate is hitting new lows and the economy is doing well.
In fact, American satisfaction with the economy is at a high not seen since 2001, reported a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll.
A landslide share of 69 percent of Americans are satisfied with the economy, yet they are reluctant to credit President Donald Trump for it.
He is viewed less favorably as a leader than a year ago when he was inaugurated.
Fewer Americans credit him with changing “business as usual in Washington” (45 percent to 35 percent) than when he took office.
Those rating him “effective for getting things done” has dropped from 46 percent to 36 percent.
Yet Trump deserves some credit for the positives in the economy.
And one of his biggest successes is not well appreciated.
This businessman has produced his biggest positive impacts by attacking the “deep state” in Washington, the regulatory state of unelected bureaucrats who too often burden businesses with costly and inefficient regulations.
A good way to put this in perspective is by looking at a few facts:
• In Barack Obama’s last year as president, the Federal Register passed 90,000 pages for the first time.
• In Trump’s first year, he slashed the Federal Register to about 53,000 pages.
• In the last year of the Obama administration, 527 significant regulations were written.
• In Trump’s first year just 118 of them were written and several of them were delaying or weakening Obama’s rules.
• The administration formally revoked 67 rules, withdrew 635 planned ones, put 244 on inactive status and delayed 700 of them.
Trump claimed this is “the most far-reaching regulatory reform” in U.S. history. And though he is prone to exaggeration, he is close to correct. Even President Ronald Reagan cut the Federal Register pages by less.
Trump has challenged his Cabinet to scrap two regulations for every new one and to look for outdated, unlawful and excessive regulations.
The proper attitude is to weigh regulations strictly on a cost-effectiveness basis. And it is here that the Trump administration deserves criticism.
Environmental rules are being changed to disregard the health impacts of the rules.
“Even diehard libertarians should worry when the administration weakens rules governing leaching of coal ash into groundwater, or permits the use of pesticides that may impact children’s brain development,” wrote the Economist magazine in an editorial.
Even when rules are needed, they need to be crafted for a maximum of simplicity and efficiency. So there is nothing wrong to enlist those directly affected by the rules when crafting them.
A better way to deal with regulations is with a thorough, thoughtful approach much like the Grace Commission of the Reagan administration. Its report in 1984, which was largely ignored by Congress, stated that one-third of all income taxes are wasted in the federal government and another third is never collected in the underground economy.
Since then, federal debt has surged to more than $19 trillion as the government spends more than it receives.
ETHICS IN ACTION
Trump’s action on ethics has been given little publicity. In fact, he signed an executive order that banned all executive branch officers from lobbying the agencies they had service for five years after leaving. This is one important move to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
He banned all White House officials for life from lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
Trump’s self-professed skill at dealmaking apparently involved being willing to walk away. That can work with trade deals like NAFTA, which is being renegotiated. It doesn’t work in reforming the Affordable Care Act or preventing a government shutdown.
Infighting within the Republican Party has been a disaster for the American people. Trump, who waged a hostile takeover by beating multiple Republican nominees for president, hasn’t been effective.
While those on both sides of the aisle agree that Obamacare needs reform, the Trump administration has been unable to come up with a deal. Thus far, he is taking action that is killing naitonal health care with a thousand cuts.
Repairing and restoring America’s roads, bridges, utilities and airports would create jobs and stimulate the economy, but the Trump administration has basically put its effort into other areas. With long-term interest rates at historic lows, this is a perfect time to invest in projects that will last a lifetime.
This should be easy.
But Trump is making it difficult.
TRUMP’S TERRIBLE TONE
The press and the White House have adversarial relationships in most circumstances. But Trump has taken criticism of the news media to a new low.
For instance, Obama’s administration secretly seized Associated Press phone records and opposed a partial federal shield law like Florida’s.
Obama’s Justice Department prosecuted nine government employees or contracts under the Espionage Act for leaking information to the media or policy groups, wrote former Wall Street Journal Executive Editor Norman Pearlstein in Time magazine.
But in his first year, Trump’s administration has tripled Obama’s record with 27 leak investigations.
Also his broad attacks on the press are troubling. Of course, the news media sometimes makes mistakes and can be unfair. But Trump’s attacks go far beyond legitimate criticism to attacking the role of the press generally.
This is poor leadership.