Despite optimism about the economy since President Trump took over, his approval ratings are the lowest of any president since at least the 1950s. The disconnect there might be that so many of Trump's pro-growth economic accomplishments have been relatively quiet, while his shortcomings have made a lot of noise.
(Lesson learned: Twitter fights draw more attention than slow-and-steady growth.)
Trump has given states flexibility to deal with a failing healthcare policy, his tax reform framework is boosting business confidence even before passage, and he has relentlessly attacked the over-the-top regulations of the Obama era.
While Trump doesn't have a signature piece of legislation to hang his hat on yet, his administration has been actively pursuing healthcare policies that would restore freedom and competition to the markets. On his first day on the job, Trump signed an executive order that provided the secretary of Health and Human Services the flexibility to relieve the fiscal burden on states, businesses, and individuals.
...to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.
Trump is also gearing up to push for tax reform in the last quarter of his first year in office. If he can pull it off, his tax reform will further ignite the economy. According to a recent paper from Andrew Hanson and Ike Brannon:
In the context of recent tax reform discussions that propose a rate reduction between 30% to 57%, that would imply employment gains between 6% to 22% and wage increases between 15% to 28%.
That sort of growth would be significant, and would also provide a boost to the president's approval rating at a post-honeymoon time in his administration when most president's approval ratings are starting to fade.
It hasn't just been healthcare and taxes though. Trump's administration has withdrawn 469 actions proposed by former President Barack Obama and reconsidered 391 active actions. This is a major change from the Obama administration, which finalized $6.8 billion in new rules in the fall of 2016 alone.
One of those changes was that of beryllium alloy exposure – which I have written about before. The Obama administration sat on the issue from Nov. 15, a final comment deadline, until Jan. 9. And, when they finally acted at the very last minute, in a desperate regulatory overreach, it was to dramatically expand the rule which they had themselves considered.
The Trump administration didn't propose fully striking the rule – and they shouldn't, beryllium in some forms can be dangerous – but they have proposed rolling back the Obama administration's midnight additions, allowing exemptions for the shipbuilding and construction industries. That change is due to a new administration taking an improved view of the role of science in policymaking.
The naturally-occurring form of beryllium found in abrasive blasting in the shipyard and construction sectors has never been found to be harmful to humans. Beryllium alloy, on the other hand, was the initial target of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulation because it does cause illness. The Trump administration has merely proposed to refocus on a science-based approach to worker safety rather than playing politics at the behest of labor unions.
One hopes that in addition to exempting abrasive blasters from the OSHA rule, the administration will remove restrictive exposure limits that remained in the last rewrite of the rule.
It is these subtle changes that many haven't noticed yet. However, businesses and investors have taken notice and they are starting to gain confidence in the Trump administration – at least privately. While the Obama administration rewarded bureaucrats for developing policies that treated the private-sector as villains, Trump is creating a culture that works with industry.
So, while President Trump's approval rating may be lower than any president since the 1950s, these numbers will start changing as 2017's economic gains become permanent. Inside of the 24-hour news cycle that we live in, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day ups and downs that an active social media president takes us on, but when we take a step back and observe the substantive actions of the administration, then it is a good time to be bullish about Trump.
Charles Sauer (@CharlesSauer) is a contributer to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is president of the Market Institute and previously worked on Capitol Hill, for a governor and for an academic think tank.
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