Trump admin touts signing up 700 state and local leaders for 'drain the swamp' initiative in 1 year

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The Trump administration on Wednesday touted that more than 700 state, local and tribal officials have signed up for the Governors' Initiative on Regulatory Innovation focusing on issues like occupational licensing reform.

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The initiative, which includes 25 governors from both parties, was started on Oct. 21, 2019, with Vice President Mike Pence taking the lead.

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"When the president was first being briefed on it, the idea was how do we take the idea of drain the swamp … to the people?" Brooke Rollins, director of the United States Domestic Policy Council, told FOX Business. "COVID has been devastating. … It also has allowed us the opportunity to look at how to deregulate, how under COVID we have been able to do that on telehealth, moving government rules out of the way so we can get health care to millions of people."

Many of these issues, like occupational licensing reform, rest on a state level, so the administration has used its "bully pulpit" to encourage deregulation, Rollins said. The administration has held more than 20 briefings (both in-person and virtual) as part of the initiative.

Explaining deregulatory efforts like overhauling the National Environmental Policy Act may not feel relevant to someone like a single mom, but the state actions encouraged by the initiative can be more tangible, Rollins said.

"Occupational licensing reform can make a difference in her life. She can open up a salon or restaurant, be a small business owner," Rollins said. "That's the really exciting part."

The administration touts Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Jared Polis of Colorado and Brad Little of Idaho as champions of deregulation, especially when it comes to occupations licensing reform.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks during a press conference at a coronavirus mobile testing site Monday, March 23, 2020, in The Villages, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Under Little, Idaho cut or simplified 75% of its regulatory rules in 2019.

“Idaho’s conservative approach to governing has truly transformed the state’s administrative code into a set of regulations that are streamlined and easier for citizens and businesses to navigate'," Little told Fox News in a statement. "When we reduce the friction on entrepreneurs and businesses, good-paying jobs follow."

The initiative has "provided a tremendous venue for Idaho to learn from other states on how they have approached issues, and allowed Idaho to better align state and federal regulations to support small businesses," Little's office said in a statement.

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Critics say Trump hasn't lived up to his 2016 campaign promise to "drain the swamp," and with less than two weeks before Election Day, President Trump is painting himself as the candidate who will cut bureaucratic red tape and his rival as the harbinger of higher taxes.

If elected, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would repeal Trump's tax cuts and raise taxes by the “largest percentage” in the country’s history, the president told Fox News' Sean Hannity earlier in October.

President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Tax Policy Center estimates Biden’s proposals would increase federal revenues by $4 trillion between 2021 and 2030, relative to current law. It would also disproportionately raise taxes on the top quintile of the income distribution.

Biden's tax plan would repeal changes made to individual income tax rates for the wealthy (individuals with incomes over $400,000) under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which means the top rate would revert back to 39.6%, from 37%.

Another big change Biden wants to make is to tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income for households earning more than $1 million.

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FOX Business’ Brittany De Lea and Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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