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Trump administration quietly releases report proving value of Obama regulations

Trump's justifications for deregulation are contradicted by a study from his administration's own Office of Managment and Budget.
(Getty Images)

If Trump officials admit that the Obama administration was right about something but no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Buried in a new Office of Budget and Management report is evidence that disputes a Republican talking point: That environmental regulations are burdensome to businesses and kill jobs. Trump has backed up that talking point with major deregulation, rolling back several EPA rules and instructing agencies to kill two regulations for every new one proposed. (Last July, the "Washington Examiner" reported that Trump had actually killed 16 for every new one signed.)

The OMB report looked at "major" federal regulations — those with $100 million or more of economic impact — that were put in place from 2006 to 2016. It concluded that their benefits far outweighed their costs by an order of magnitude: The aggregate costs were $59 to $88 billion, and the benefits were $219 to $615 billion. "According to OMB — and to the federal agencies upon whose data OMB mostly relied — the core of the Trumpian case against Obama regulations, arguably the organizing principle of Trump’s administration, is false," says Vox.

The site points out that environmental rules, the focus of most Trump deregulation, have the highest cost but also the most benefits. The OMB report said that new fuel standards for medium-size engines cost industry $0.8 billion to $1.1 billion, but they resulted in $6.7 to $9.7 billion in benefits. Regulations aimed at reducing emissions from power plants cost industry $9.6 billion but reaped $33 billion to $90 billion in benefits.

"That is why Republicans hate EPA and its rules: They are a burden to industry, but worse, they are a burden to industry that is very obviously worth it. Industry makes a small sacrifice, public health improves, and economic growth continues apace. EPA rules are a living demonstration of the good that government can do," says Vox.

The OMB report also refuted the Trump and GOP argument that regulation "kills jobs." The section dedicated to regulations' effect on employment did not show that any jobs were lost because of federal rules during the time period studied. Instead, it illustrated that it's common for regulation to cause jobs to shift from one industry to another.

"Until Trump’s administration makes a case that its own OMB and agencies are wrong — not just by a little, but by tens of billions of dollars — the presumption of every journalist and politico in Washington should be that there is no coherent policy rationale for Trump’s deregulatory agenda," concluded Vox.