Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Trump who would be king

The very start of Trump’s presidency could well be his favorite time. We have pictures of him sitting very seriously and very importantly at his desk signing executive orders in his very bold, angular signature.  With one stroke of his pen he changes the country and the world!  Or so he thinks.

I wonder.

For example, he will build the wall along the Mexican border! Well, I think it takes $15 billion to do that, and that is up to Congress to fund.  I understand he has some administrative funds at his discretion, but we shall see if the tight-fisted Republican Congress obeys his commands.

(No, wait!  News just came across the wire! – Trump will pay for the wall with a 20% tax on the food and goods imported from Mexico – yes, of course, Mexico will pay for the wall after all!  No, wait… Americans will pay for the wall by paying higher prices for Mexican food and goods. It’s going to take a lot of beer and tomatoes to pay for a $15 billion wall.)

Is this what he promised - to have Americans pay for the wall in higher prices?

I think he thinks he has been made king. We shall see.  I believe General Eisenhower was surprised to learn that the Executive Branch was not like the Army – giving an order didn’t mean that it was carried out.  It’s more complicated in politics than the military - or in a privately owned one man business enterprise.

Here is a list of his executive orders and tweet commands so far per Lisa Desjardins of PBS:
12. Border wall.  This order also directs the hiring of an additional 5,000 border patrol agents, subject to funding.  Congress?
11. Deportations and sanctuary cities.  The order also directs the hiring of 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, though it states that is subject to funding.  Congress?
10. Review manufacturing regulations. With the aim of finding ways to speed up permitting and all federal processes for them. Congress? The Courts?
9. American steel in pipelines.  “to the maximum extent possible.” Congress?  The Courts?
8. Speeding up environmental reviews for all priority infrastructure. Congress?  The Courts?
 6 + 7. Speeding approval of Dakota Access and Keystone Oil Pipelines. The Courts?
 5. Federal hiring freeze. The president has told agencies they cannot fill any vacant positions nor open new ones, with two exceptions: military personnel and critical public safety positions.
4. TPP. This memorandum withdraws the United States from all Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and from signing the trade deal. Congress is already refusing to ratify this.
3. Abortion. President Trump has ordered that federal dollars cannot go to organizations that provide abortion services. Oh well, when Reps gets into office this is what they do.
2. Regulation freeze. The president has frozen all regulations now in process (but not approved) until they are approved by him or an agency after he took office. Obama's symbolic actions at his end are being countered by Trump's symbolic action at his start.
1. ACA rollback. Mr. Trump has allowed all agency heads to waive requirements of the Affordable Care Act to the “maximum extent permitted by law.”  Congress and the Courts will have a lot to say about this.
It’s possible that he and his team will get everything on this list, plus the multitude of executive orders and Command Tweets to come, but … really? 

I think Mr. Trump may find out he is not a king after all, but just the top person in one third of the government – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  And, by the way, since he has decided to wage war against the Fourth Estate – the press – and his own Intelligence agencies, I am not sure that he is in quite as commanding position that he thinks he is right now.