President Donald Trump signed S. 2553 and S. 2554 Wednesday, at a ceremony in the White House. (Photo: White House) President Donald Trump (Photo: White House)

Welcome back to Human Capital! I’m Melanie Waddell in Washington. With Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate behind us, Michael Bloomberg’s less than stellar first-time showing — according to comments by voters and political pundits on both sides of the aisle — may dash his chances of winning the White House and reviving the now-defunct Labor Department fiduciary rule (as he announced Tuesday that he would do if elected).

Also front and center, however, is an overlooked aspect of President Donald Trump’s recently released 2021 budget, which says his administration is on a deregulatory tear.

Keep scrolling to read why Trump’s regulatory relief numbers shouldn’t be taken “at face value,” according to Heidi Shierholz, director of policy and an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, and why Labor needs to act fast if it wants to wrap up a fiduciary rule reboot proposal this year.

Don’t forget to listen in on the latest Human Capital podcast with George Michael Gerstein, co-chair of the Fiduciary Governance Group at Stradley Ronon in Washington.

Trump’s 2021 budget points to his previous promise to “cut two regulations for every new” one, and says that “was the wrong goal.”

Instead: The federal government during the last three years has cut more than seven regulations for every significant new regulation, Trump reported, and “put the brakes on an endless assault of new, costly actions by federal agencies.”

The question is, however, “even if you take those numbers at face value, which I don’t think we should,” Shierholz opined, “what kinds of regulating and deregulating are they [the administration] doing? Is it actually good for the American people? The answer is a huge no” when it comes to the Labor Department.

Trump’s “pro-worker” stance has not been borne out by the “enormous amount of regulations” at Labor — “every one of them has cut against workers,” Shierholz said.

The Obama-era overtime rule has been replaced with a rule that has a “lower threshold,” Shierholz said, “which means workers get less pay.”

As to Labor’s fiduciary rule reboot to align with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest, “that’s a top priority” for Labor this year, according to Shierholz.

But Labor better act fast: “If the proposal drops tomorrow, they [Labor] could have a 60-day comment period and have enough time to write the final [rule] by the end of the year. But it would have to happen quickly.”

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