Is President Trump Dismantling the Regulatory State?

Regulatory activity in the first year of President Donald Trump's administration has been significantly different from that of previous administrations. While regulatory restrictions have still increased since President Trump took office, they have grown at a much slower pace than has historically been the case. 

Why it matters: Every president since Jimmy Carter has openly expressed concern about the growing number of regulations, and each has promised to attempt to rein in unnecessarily burdensome, outdated, or duplicative regulations. Despite those efforts, the number of regulatory restrictions has grown from approximately 400,000 in 1970 to more than 1,000,000 in 2016. In the first year of every administration during that time, regulatory restrictions increased. If regulations had been held constant between 1980 and 2012, the US economy would have been about 25 percent larger than it was.

The chart below compares growth in regulatory restrictions during the first year of the last six administrations to President Trump's first year. 

Read more: To learn more about how these restrictions are calculated or to see an agency-by-agency breakdown of regulatory activity under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, read Regulatory Data on Trump's First Year by Senior Research Fellow Patrick McLaughlin.

Explore the data: Visit to access our open-source platform that allows you to use the best tools of data science to analyze policy-relevant documents, including legislation, regulation, and more.