Archive for the ‘#potus’ Tag

Why Do We Focus on A Person Instead of What Matters?   1 comment

When Bill Clinton was president,  he was taking the country in a direction that many of us were uncomfortable with. This created push-back. The conservative movement had been around for a long time as a group of writers and commentators who mostly talked among themselves, but hadn’t real political power over the 20 years of its existence. In the prior few years since Reagan had set aside the decidedly-unfair Fairness Doctrine, conservative talk radio had given them a larger voice and wakened up a lot of people to the difference between what they valued and what Bill Clinton wanted.

Image result for image of donald trumpThe conservative push-back against Bill Clinton resulted in the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1940. And for a brief exciting time, we saw principles being discussed. As a young mother struggling to raise our daughter while my husband was in school, it was exciting to hear that those on welfare would now be expected to work if they wanted to receive benefits and that there would be limits set on how long they could receive those benefits. I could hope my taxes (what the government was stealing from my paycheck to give to these deadbeats — and yeah, they were deadbeats) might go down eventually.

But something happened. The conversation shifted from principles (reducing government, spending less, taxing less, taking responsibility for your own life) to a person – Bill Clinton. Make no mistake, Bill Clinton isn’t a good guy. He’s a sexual predator. There’s certainly been plenty of evidence looked at and ignored over the years that he and Hillary are crooks. That is not my point. I want to understand why we started talking about what he was doing while president rather than about how his policies were affecting us and why we needed to change those policies?

I think it has something to do with the danger to the State of that line of thinking. The last thing any president wants is to have his power curtailed and that’s where the conservative conversation would have eventually led. As people rediscovered the Founders and read the Constitution, people were beginning to understand that the power of the presidency had grown incredibly over the last 100 years. And understanding that might lead to the people demanding the presidency be scaled back to Founding Era power levels.

The co-opting of the conservative movement was subtle and it certainly had help from Bill Clinton’s sexual immorality, but we’ve not really moved beyond that dynamic. When Bush 2 was president, the liberal-progressives mostly talked about him. They hated him, even though it is hard to see why. He expanded federal control over the local education systems. He expanded Medicare. He gave them a lot of pet projects they’d been dreaming of since the 1994 Contract of America had set them back on their heels. But despite him giving them what they wanted, they hated him.

The other day on Twitter someone posted that “evangelical Christians have gotten over Trump’s sinful ways, but they still haven’t gotten over Obama being black.” I called baloney on that. I never cared about Obama being black. I don’t know any (white) evangelical Christians who are racists and cared about the color of his skin. They objected to his policies and you can be against the policies of a president without it being racial. Obama’s policies STANK for the middle- and working-classes. We were drowning and he was throwing us anchors that shut down the businesses that paid us to work for them rather than lifelines that would keep us afloat until the economy recovered. That had nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with how his policies were affecting us.

So, now Donald Trump is president. I don’t like him personally (which is why I didn’t vote for him). But some of his policies seem to have had a great effect on the economy and that helps many evangelical Christians who are working- and -middle-class. So many of them are willing to ignore who he is as a person and support him because of his policies. Heck, if this economy continues, he might get my vote in 2020.

But probably not simply because there are other policies of his that I object to and I am a policy voter. I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney because his policies didn’t match my values. Did I think he would be better for the economy than Barack Obama? No, not really. He would have gone even further into Obamacare and probably tweaked it so it “succeeded”  until most people began to think they couldn’t live without it. I’m all about people being responsible for themselves, so I didn’t like Mitt Romney, the Republican socialist, so I didn’t vote for him.

I do have a point with this post. The problem with politics is not really with who we have in the White House. It’s taken a long time for me to get to this place, but I’ve come to understand that the presidency itself is the problem with government and has been pretty much from the beginning. It has too much power. It can write its own laws through executive orders. It has so many loopholes where it doesn’t have to work with Congress to get things done. It doesn’t matter if there’s a Republican in the office or a Democrat. Both have too much power and they follow policies that harm people. It’s a problem with the Institution of the Presidency not with the guy or gal who sits in the leather seat behind the nice desk in the uniquely shaped office.

A Reverse Legacy   Leave a comment

Every president since Jimmy Carter has promised to cut regulation. Carter lied and so did the others. Even President Obama’s early executive orders promising to cut red tape and improve the flow of the regulatory process sounded impressive until six of the seven all-time-high years for federal regulation occurred during his tenure. Obama lied too.

Image result for image of regulatory rollbackWe’ve experienced four decades of nonstop growth in federal regulation. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations is more than 175,000 pages long, having grown steadily since the 1970s.

Understand that federal regulations aren’t just words on paper. Those 175,000+ pages include more than one million commandments from Washington in the form of restrictive words such as “must,” “cannot,” or “shall.”

Candidate Trump promised to change that and Prresident Trump’s first 100 days give us reason to hope this trend is about to change. President Trump has already issued two executive orders on regulatory reform that informed executive branch agencies that regulatory restrictions on businesses will not be able to keep growing on autopilot. Trump’s hiring freeze will also help lower the rate of new regulations. As research from the Mercatus Center has shown, there is a high correlation between the number of employees at an agency and the number of regulations issued by that agency. President Trump has also taken advantage of the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the power to overturn recently finalized regulations through a simple majority vote. He has signed at least 13 such repeals. (By the way, this tool had been successfully used only once in its 20-year history.)  I doubt he’ll be able to keep his lofty promise to cut regulation by 75% or more, but just halting the growth in federal regulations would be a massive achievement.

The president has several methods available to him to accomplish this. Moving into the next phase of his first term, there are three main legislative solutions that President Trump can use to follow through on his promises to cut regulation. These solutions address the accumulation of old regulations, the creation of costly new regulations, and the lack of public participation in the regulatory process.

Get rid of outdated, ineffective regulations.

Both the Regulatory Improvement Act and the SCRUB Act create a “Regulatory Improvement Commission” to come up with a package of older regulations to eliminate that would then go through Congress for an up-or-down vote. Focusing on older regulations would take some of the politics out of regulatory reform, and voting on a large package in this way would limit the ability of established interests to interfere with the process. Because figuring out what regulations to cut requires weighing costs and benefits, addressing regulatory accumulation also requires that proposed federal regulations undergo basic cost-benefit analyses. Currently, most regulations coming from Washington are never subjected to this commonsense test. Don’t believe me. In 2014, only 16 of the 3,500+ rules published in the Federal Register underwent cost analyses. Since 2001, fewer than three out of every 1,000 regulations have had an accompanying cost-benefit analysis. The resulting lack of information creates an incomplete picture of the total regulatory burden on the economy.

 

Slow the nonstop growth in new, costly regulations.

While a regulatory improvement commission would help lower the economic drag from decades of regulatory accumulation, we really need to reverse the destructive effects that the autopilot nature of federal regulation has on the economy. Federal regulations cost the economy $1.9 trillion each year, which comes out to about $15,000 per U.S. household. The Trump administration could begin to turn the tide by supporting the REINS Act, which would give Congress authorization for voice approval or override within 70 days if a major regulation with more than $100 million in annual economic costs is to take effect. This would invert the current system, under which regulations take effect unless Congress takes the time to stop them. To understand this dynamic, recognize that there have been 29 times more regulations issued by agencies than laws passed by Congress since 2009. The REINS Act has overwhelming support from Republicans, and it has already passed the House. President Trump could have a chance to sign it into law before the year is over.

 

Infuse unprecedented transparency into the regulatory process.

To further strengthen his opposition to runaway executive-agency powers, President Trump can encourage Congress to consider legislation such as the Regulatory Predictability for Business Growth Act, which was introduced in 2015 but did not pass. This bill would require agency interpretations that are in effect for longer than a year to go through the general notice and comment provisions required under the Administrative Procedure Act. Administrators’ interpretations are meant only to provide guidance for complying with existing regulations, so they are considered exempt from the full regulatory-review process required under the Administrative Procedure Act. Agencies increasingly use blog posts, press conferences, and guidance documents to substantially alter the meaning of existing regulations. Returning agency interpretation to its proper role as guidance rather than lawmaking would help reintroduce public participation and openness into the regulatory process. And, if President Trump is seeking a legacy, this change will last long after he has left office.

Excessive regulation holds back the United States’ economic potential. President Trump appears to understand that dramatic reforms to the regulatory state are required to overcome the sluggish economy he has inherited. Fixing the regulatory system so that it no longer drags on the economy will certainly take longer than 100 days, but President Trump is off to a nice start.

Giving Trump A Chance   Leave a comment

I didn’t vote for Trump … or Hillary. I couldn’t be stuck in the middle again, trying to choose between two idiots, neither of whom I figured was good for the country. I voted 3rd party. Some might think that was a wasted vote, but what it did for me was to release me from ownership of this election. I didn’t mourn that Hillary lost (I wouldn’t have anyway) and I don’t feel the need to voraciously protect Trump’s win. It was liberating … having no stake in the election results.

Trump puts freeze on new regulationsI have followed the transition with some trepidation as Trump has made some really stupid statements. But I’ve also watched with interest as he’s picked (some) advisors whose ideas I like.

So last night we sat down and listened to his inaugural address … twice, because the teenager wasn’t there the first time and we thought he should hear it too just to say he had. What did I think?

I applaud Trump for tossing out the inaugural address playbook. He didn’t promise to spend a certain impressive amount of money to create an impressive number of jobs, train workers, build bridges, etc. He kept it vague … which would be appropriate in a country that is $21 trillion in debt. Like a businessman (oh!), he perhaps recognized that he will need to figure out what there is to spend … and he will find out there’s nothing left. The treasury has been looted. We can’t afford the trillion dollars he proposes to spend on roads and bridges. We don’t have the money. The government steals about 2 1/2 trillion dollars from us and then spends a little over 3 trillion. It’s been doing that for a decade and a half now. They’ve done that for so long that we no longer have any wiggle room. I suspect Trump knows that, which is why he didn’t make specific promises.

I appreciated that he acknowledged that the people put him in office. If I believed that he was actually going to turn federal power back to the states and individuals it was always supposed to rest with, I’d be cheering with the crowds. But I don’t think the federal bureaucracy will let him do that … even if he is himself inclined to do it. For the record, I would love if the federal government devolved most of its usurped power back to the states because I can make an appointment to talk to our governor. I’m not exaggerating. It’s the beauty of living in a small-population state that we know our political leaders personally. Governor Walker isn’t the perfect governor, but he’s a whole lot more accessible than a faceless bureaucrat in Washington DC or the President of the United States. He knows what it is like to live here and our needs can be explained to him. The same doesn’t exist with that faceless bureaucrat in DC … or even one who has moved to Alaska from DC and holds themselves aloft from those who live here.

But I’ve been lied to by too many politicians to believe that this is going to happen.

I took issue with a few things Trump said. Don’t patronize me with paraphrasing the Bible. I know you don’t believe in it. Just stop!

Our military does not require rebuilding. We have the largest military in the world. We’re spread across hundred of countries. We spend $600 billion a year on the military. We don’t need to rebuild our “deteriorated” military. We may need to reassign them. We might want to start leaving countries and bringing troops home. We could do it gradually to give the ecnomy time to absorb the new workers. We could deploy some to the border and ports to defend our real needs.

I’ve been opposed to protectionism for a long time and I think Trump’s tariffs sound a lot like Smoot-Hawley, which deepened the Market Correction of 1929 into the Great Depression. If Trump wants to make America Great Again, get rid of the Jones Act so Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico can live affordably. Get rid of all regulations that have come into existence since 2006. Make the agencies involved rest of them justify their existence. All of them. Stop treating Americans like a mass of people like some amorphous organism that all want the same things. Start treating us like individuals and letting us make our own decisions. We are not a collective. Some of us don’t want to be.

So, I’m still willing to give Trump a chance, but he also still concerns me.

What worries me more is the protesters who tried to block access to the inaugural. When conservatives were disappointed that Barack Obama was elected president and immediately made it clear that he and the Democratic Congress had no intention of representing the 47% of the country that didn’t vote for him (which was AFTER the inauguration), the “tea party” gathered in parks and auditoriums to make their voices heard, but they didn’t throw rocks or punches or assault people.

What has happened to this country? We seem unable to listen to one another and treat each other with respect, disagreeing on ideas but respecting each other as humans. We assign lunacy or devilry to anyone we disagree with and that makes it impossible for us to hear one another.

If things keep going the way they are going now, secession will become more attractive even to the Big Government folks. That’s a good thing. Federalism was a worthy experiment, but it hasn’t worked out for small-population states, especially in the west. If Trump returns the power to the states, things might be better, but then the blue states will elect someone more to their liking and we’ll end up fighting to keep federalism. Wouldn’t it be better if we agreed to disagree and separated? We could still be friends, conduct trade, travel freely, work together for common concerns, but the concentrated blue zones would no longer be able to force the red zones to do it their way.

I don’t think Trump is going to do this, but I am looking at what we do beyond him. If we want “the people” to be in charge, we should consider that what is really needed is to stop trying to force our neighbors to do it our way. Actual federalism is one way to do that. Secession with cooperation is another way. It moves us in the right direction.

We need to stop expecting the guy in the Oval Office to save us. Let’s save ourselves. Trump drops hints that he believes that, but I don’t think he does. He thinks he’s our savior. I already have a Savior and I can make my own decisions..

How about you?. If the Donald got rid of taxation, regulation, monopolies, licensing, the EPA, downsized and domesticated the military, actually opened up free trade … could you handle it? Would you rejoice? Or would it scare the hell out of you?

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