President Donald Trump announced his aggressive plan to slash regulatory hurdles for businesses, during a meeting with CEOs and business leaders at the White House on April 4.
“We are absolutely destroying these horrible regulations that have been placed on your heads—over not eight years, over the last 20 and 25 years,” said Trump.
His priority will be the Dodd-Frank Act, which Trump called “horrendous.”
The act is a complex set of banking regulations, enacted in 2010 by the Obama administration, that is designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
But it failed to serve its stated purpose, according to experts. The legislation, which aimed to end the “too big to fail” mentality of the major banks, has instead hurt small banks, small businesses, and consumers.
Small banks lost their ability to compete with the larger banks when increased regulatory demands and capital requirements increased their costs, making it harder for them to serve small businesses profitably.
Although all banks are better capitalized today, industry experts argue that Dodd-Frank negatively affected the overall economic environment.
“The regulators are running the banks,” Trump said. “We want strong restrictions, we want strong regulation, but not regulation that makes it impossible for the banks to loan to people who are going to create jobs.”
He promised to cut regulations by 90 to 95 percent while still providing the same protections.
Trump also addressed the difficulties in obtaining permits for infrastructure investments. The zoning process to build a highway in New York, for example, takes about 10 to 20 years, he said. A state government would have to go through 16 different approvals, 29 different statutes, and five different executive orders to provide a permit for a highway at the federal level.
“Even to redo a road takes years,” Trump said. “We’ve come to a halt.”
He pledged to speed up the process dramatically—permits, he said, will only take a year, rather than decades.
Trump criticized the former administration’s use of an approved $1 trillion infrastructure investment bill. He accused Obama of using it for social programs instead. “To this day, I haven’t heard of anything that’s been built,” Trump said.
Jobs and Unemployment
He again pledged to create more jobs by convincing companies to invest in the United States, or else pay a tax.
“I think you’re going to see a very much different environment than you’ve been used to over the last 20, 25 years,” he said. “We’re going to unleash the country.”
Trump also derided the way the government currently calculates unemployment statistics. In the last few months, the official unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest levels since 2007.
He said the unemployment rate (4.7 percent), “sounds good, but when you look for a job, you can’t find it and you give up—you are now considered statistically employed. But I don’t consider those people employed.”
The town hall meeting was co-chaired by Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, and Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group. It was part of an ongoing dialogue Trump has promised to keep with business leaders.