Thursday, April 27, 2017

The mixed-bag record of Trump-administration "policy" continues with current decisions on several fronts

LITD is squarely in the camp of conservative outlets that, during the campaign season, argued passionately for an actual conservative candidate and against DJT for reasons that are well-known, but, since his election, has taken a development-by-development approach. A look back at posts having to do with executive orders, cabinet and agency appointments, legislative proposals and public statements shows that we've called 'em as we've seen 'em, stating flatly - generally in the title of a given post - that some moves are awful, but also doling out praise where it's due.

A number of things are currently in the administration's inbox and it seems useful to review where it stands on each, and whether those stances deserve a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.

Shane Vander Hart at Caffeinated Thoughts distills, I think, the three main good things the executive order on K-12 does:

1. Administration policy will favor local and state control in education as the law allows.

The order reads:
It shall be the policy of the executive branch to protect and preserve State and local control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, and personnel of educational institutions, schools, and school systems, consistent with applicable law, including ESEA, as amended by ESSA, and ESEA’s restrictions related to the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Trump is saying that his administration will operate within the confines of the law and not expand the reach and scope of the federal government into K-12 education by rule, regulation, or U.S. Department of Education guidance.

2. Trump orders a review of all federal rules, regulations, and guidance related to K-12 education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will spearhead the review. DeVos is to look at all of the regulations and guidance documents related to the Department of Education Organization Act, General Education Provisions Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The executive order reads:
The Secretary shall examine whether these regulations and guidance documents comply with Federal laws that prohibit the Department from exercising any direction, supervision, or control over areas subject to State and local control, including:
(i)    the curriculum or program of instruction of any elementary and secondary school and school system;
(ii)   school administration and personnel; and
(iii)  selection and content of library resources, textbooks, and instructional materials.

3. Trump orders DeVos to “rescind or revise” anything that violates statutory prohibitions.

DeVos is ordered to rescind or revise any regulations or guidance documents that are inconsistent with statutory prohibitions on federal control of K-12 education. If any of those items gave the Department the ability to direct, supervise, or control areas that are subject to state and local control she has to rescind or revise and publish any new regulation or guidance document within 300 days.

Now, for a bad move, the toying with the idea of leaving NAFTA. I cede the floor to the great Senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse on this one:

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse cautioned Trump against acting hastily, when it comes to NAFTA.
“Scrapping NAFTA would be a disastrously bad idea,” he said in a statement. “It would hurt American families at the check-out, and it would cripple American producers in the field and the office.”
“Yes, there are places where our agreements could be modernized but here’s the bottom line: trade lowers prices for American consumers and it expands markets for American goods. Risking trade wars is reckless, not wise.”

The massive tax plan is excellent, but, as Charles Gasparino at the New York Post points out,

business interest groups [will] lobby Congress to keep their loopholes, Democrats argue that the White House and Republicans are throwing money at the rich — and more than a few Republicans demand that the whole thing not add a cent to the budget deficit, even if the evidence of the Reagan years is that lowering taxes on people and businesses can grow tax revenues and, with some budget restraint, pay for itself.
And it may be those "business interests" that scuttle the much-needed exit from the Paris "Climate" agreement:

The latest word on the administration's stance came from Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who said Tuesday he would not advise Trump to abandon the deal but rather renegotiate it.
That statement aligned Perry, the former governor of Texas, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who formerly headed ExxonMobil and has spoken in favor of honoring the US commitment to the Paris deal, struck in 2015 and signed by more than 190 countries.
Trump's daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner -- who both serve as his advisors -- are also said to be in favor of the deal.
On Wednesday, 13 major international businesses ranging from energy to pharmaceuticals to retail urged Trump to adhere to the Paris accord.
"US business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response," said the letter signed by BP, Walmart, Google and others.
"We believe the Paris Agreement provides such a framework."

That said, it is heartening to see camps of resistance to the idea of staying in that stupid and harmful agreement:

But some in Trump's inner circle, including advisor Steve Bannon, want Trump to keep his campaign promise to "cancel" the deal.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is also said to be pushing for a US exit, according to Andrew Light, senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, a global research organization.

"He is worried that if the US stays in Paris, that would become the basis for some kind of legal objection to his work now, to do things like dismantle the Clean Power Plan and regulations (former president Barack) Obama put in place on transportation and electricity sectors," Light told AFP.

"I don't think the US staying in Paris interferes at all with what Pruitt wants to do with regard to domestic regulations," he added.
"But if the US stays in Paris there is a very high likelihood they will also announce they intend to change the US target." 
Again, there's that inconsistency thing. What was the point of hiring Pruitt to do the important work of de-fanging the EPA if he is going tone undercut on the diplomatic and "business interest" front?

Then there is the highly unusual move of calling in all 100 Senators for a b briefing on the North Korea situation, calling it "very grave."  That one is what it is. It's the inevitable juncture at which we're going to find ourselves after 20-plus years of idiotic policy, as enshrined in the Agreed Framework, the Six-Way Talks, and "strategic patience." But, jeez, it does kind of raise the hair on one's neck. Have you seen the photos of North Korea's live-fire drills? It's clear that at least one message Kim is sending is that, "Hey, we have plenty of this stuff. It's no biggie to use some of it for drill purposes."

So the mixed-bag record continues to establish itself. It looks silly to cheerlead for this bunch, but conversely, the shrill and idiotic response of the hard Left looks even sillier. IT's best to be guided by conservative principles and assess each development on its merits.


  1. As long as China is on board too; otherwise things haven't changed much since Ike pulled the plug on military confrontation back in 1953 to only muffled hawkish outcry.

  2. No sir, nothing's changed. North Korea had 20 nuclear bombs, ICMB capability and thousands of short-range missiles back there in 1953.

  3. Without China then and now, they were nothing. But OK , you might have you hawkish days here again. It could get ugly then and ugly now. As Teump says, statecraft is hard. Hey, what'd we stock Israel with that they won't admit to having?