The goal of President Trump's latest executive order is clear enough: Fewer rules. But the way he's going about it — making agencies withdraw two old regulations every time they issue a new one — is a bit sloppy and probably will cause more problems than it solves, former Health and Human Services officials tell me.
That's mainly from Obama administration alums, so take it for what it's worth. But they weren't really hostile to the idea — they just don't think it will end well. Here's what the Trump team will probably find out as they implement the order:
- It takes time to figure out which regulations to withdraw. That "just adds a layer of work that may not be very productive," said Kathleen Sebelius, the former Health and Human Services secretary under President Barack Obama.
- If Republicans really want to repeal or even rewrite Obamacare, it's going to take a whole new set of rules to implement that, and the executive order is "more likely to slow things down rather than speed them up," said Sebelius.
- It also takes a lengthy process just to get rid of a rule, said former HHS official Rima Cohen.
- There are also plenty of regulations that are routine, and that everyone wants — like updating payment rates for doctors.
Tom Scully, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President George W. Bush, said the order would be "a little clumsy, but I don't think it's undoable" — as long as the Office of Management and Budget doesn't apply the order too literally. More from Caitlin Owens and me here.