Presidential advisor Steve Bannon famously told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that the Trump Administration seeks to “deconstruct” the regulatory state. The President has issued several Executive Orders (EOs) on regulations designed to implement this policy, including the “two for one” EO, an EO on enforcing the regulatory agenda, and an EO on reorganizing the executive branch. The three orders collectively promote a policy of deregulation and wholesale elimination of administrative functions deemed overly burdensome to business, redundant, or outdated.
This week, the White House followed through on that agenda by publishing a proposed budget that would impose sweeping budget reductions on almost every federal agency, with the exception of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
The key consumer protection agencies—the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—are not directly subject to any of these EOs or addressed in the President’s Budget Request. But that does not mean these agencies are in the clear in terms of budget-cutting or deregulatory efforts. Rather, it seems more likely that the administration is preoccupied with bigger fish at the moment; in the meantime, they are treading carefully. Which raises the question: what else is in store for these agencies once they regain the Trump Administration’s focus?