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Trump claims about cutting regulations give Dems 2020 election opening

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President Donald Trump uses gold scissors to cut a red tape tied between two stacks of papers representing the government regulations of the 1960s (L) and the regulations of today (R) after he spoke about his administration's efforts in deregulation in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 14, 2017.

Trump has dramatically reduced the pace of new rules, although it is unclear whether he has actually cut more regulations than his predecessors. The pace of federal restrictions climbed by 0.73 percent during the president’s first 15 months in the White House, according to a FactCheck.org assessment citing data from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. By December, only about 325 more restrictive rules were on the books than when Trump took office, the report said. For comparison, the same type of rules increased by about 1.5 percent annually during both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

It is not clear whether Trump’s regulatory changes actually improved the economy, either. Average monthly job creation has not noticeably improved since the Obama administration, while gross domestic product growth has.

Trump certainly thinks touting his deregulatory efforts makes a good political case. For years, politicians have promoted efforts to make it easier for businesses to operate and create jobs.

But public opinion may go against him — especially in an era when attacks on big business and the wealthy have proven potent.

As Trump prepared to enter office in January 2017, 51 percent of voters said he should not remove regulations on businesses and corporations, while 39 percent responded that he should, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. In addition, 59 percent of respondents said he should not remove specific regulations intended to combat climate change versus 32 percent who thought he should.

Voters answered differently depending on their parties. While the vast majority of Democrats and most independents said they favored keeping regulations in place, Republicans by a wide margin said they wanted the president to get rid of rules.

The politics around regulation can change in an instant if voters see a practical effect from lax rules. For instance, Boeing has faced more scrutiny over the certification process for its 737 Max jets following two deadly crashes since October.

Rumblings for more scrutiny of Boeing have already started within the Democratic field. On Wednesday, Klobuchar called for a congressional “oversight investigation on what happened” with the company’s jets.

So far, Trump has faced less political backlash than he might have if the crashes took place in the United States, said Stan Veuger, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank. If more problems with the 737 Max emerge — or the issues become more directly tied to Trump administration policy — Trump could start to face more political pressure over it.

“I think for there to be real political risk, you need to have a serious incident,” Veuger said.

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