Editorial: One thing in which Trump excels
Trump continues to underperform in every presidential exercise except one: reversing regulations put in place by previous administrations that largely worked to the benefit of individual Americans. That he has done more than any other president in the first 200 days in office, is true only if the qualifier “to harm Americans” is added to his claim.
Several news outlets, including Fox News, have published such lists in recent weeks. Here’s a partial list by subject area as compiled by Philip Bump of the Washington Post. The preface to each point is, things that Trump has undone:
• Withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade deal would have established a trade partnership between the United States and countries on the Pacific Rim. (Critics of the move note that China has moved into the vacuum created by Trump’s action and will benefit greatly with trade among former U.S. allies and trade partners. It weakens trade for American businesses and will hurt the U.S. economy long-term.)
• Revoked a rule that expanded the number of people who could earn overtime pay. (The rule had been put in place by the Obama Administration to benefit hourly workers — the majority of whom are lower- and middle-class Americans.)
• Revoked an executive order that mandated compliance by contractors with laws protecting women in the workplace. Prior to the 2014 order, a report found that companies with federal contracts worth millions of dollars had scores of violations of labor and civil rights laws.
• Repeal of a rule allowing states to create retirement savings plans for private-sector workers. (The rule didn’t cost the federal government money, but did provide a way for private-sector workers — again, mainly the middle class) to benefit from group plans.)
• Cancelled a rule mandating that financial advisers act in the best interests of their clients. (Unbelievable as this sounds, the benefactors of Trump’s move are brokerage houses and big banks — part of the swamp he had promised to drain. Rather, Trump gave individual investors the shaft.)
The justice system
• Rescinded an Obama effort to reduce mandatory sentences. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered that prosecutors seek the most stringent penalties possible in criminal cases. (This will flood the nation’s prison system, often for petty crimes such as possession of marijuana, at the expense of taxpayers.)
• Reversed a ban on civil forfeiture. Law enforcement officials are now once again able to seize assets from suspects who haven’t been convicted of any crime.
• Reversed the government’s position on a voter ID law in Texas. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department argued that the law had discriminatory intent. Under Sessions, Justice withdrew that complaint. On Wednesday, a federal court threw out the law, (which validated Obama’s initial action and proved Sessions wrong.)
• Withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.
• Blocked the Clean Power Plan. The plan implemented under Obama focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
• Ended a study on the health effects of mountaintop-removal mining. The process involves blasting away the tops of hills and mountains to get at coal seams under the surface. (It is a primary cause of stream pollution in coal-mining states like West Virginia.)
• Rescinded a rule mandating that rising sea levels be considered when building public infrastructure in flood-prone areas.
• Reversed an Obama ban on drilling for oil in the Arctic.
• Reviewed the status of national monuments for possible reversal. In April, Trump signed an executive order ordering a review of monuments added in the past 20 years, opening up the possibility that some areas previously set aside would have that status revoked.
• Withdrew a rule regulating fracking on public land.
• Reversed a ban on plastic bottles at national parks. (Really? Why?)
• Repealed a ban on lead bullets. The bullets were banned under Obama because the lead poisons wildlife. (Even the NRA suggests ways to limit the harmful effect of lead bullets at shooting ranges.)
• Rescinded a limit on the number of sea animals that can be trapped or killed in fishing nets.
• Delayed and potentially rolled back automotive fuel efficiency standards.
• Repealed the Waters of the United States rule. This rule expanded the definition of water bodies that were protected by the Environmental Protection Agency.
• Ended a rule banning dumping waste from mining into streams.
• Removed a bike-sharing station at the White House. (Even if Trump doesn’t exercise, the action cost taxpayers thousands of dollars to remove, and in bicyles, all for no benefit. That’s just dumb.)
Foreign policy and immigration
• Rolled back of Obama’s outreach to the Cuban government.
• Ended the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program. DAPA extended protections for some immigrant parents whose children were citizens of or residents in the United States.
• Rolled back school lunch standards championed by Michelle Obama. (As a consequence, independent farmers who supply fresh food to schools will be replaced by larger corporate suppliers selling highly processed food.)
• Repealed a rule mandating certain requirements for teacher-preparation programs.
• Revoked a ban on denying funding for Planned Parenthood at the state level.
• Repealed a rule mandating that Internet service providers seek permission before selling personal information. (That means more spam in your mailbox and more unwanted calls to your phone.)
• Reversed a rule that would ban gun sales to those deemed “mentally defective” by the government.
• Cancelled public reporting on visitors to the White House and other online data. (Trump does not want the public to know which lobbying firms and foreign governments are frequenting the White House — the first president to do so since the custom was established decades ago.)
And that’s what Trump calls making America great again?
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