The president began his work week signing an order to cut two regulations from the federal bureaucracy for every new regulation created. He’s making good on a campaign pledge, and changing the subject from his recent order banning the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries—a move that created chaos at airports, spurred massive protests and successful legal challenges, and even drew rebukes from some leading Republicans.
This gimmicky order will impose the arbitrary elimination of government rules, completely divorced from the question of their usefulness. This sort of thing may be an applause line at CPAC—and it’s certainly consistent with the conservative moment’s Norquistian project of indiscriminately slashing government—but it sets up a quantitative evaluation system for regulations instead of a qualitative one. It’s premised on the idea that the number of rules is more important than whether those rules are actually serving a vital purpose. This is not how good government works.