Giving Trump’s First Week a Thumbs-Up…ish.

I have reason to be happy with the events of the Trump’s first week. Those reasons are important and I will get to those shortly. But I am by no means euphoric. I can say that I am encouraged by the Left’s sudden love of the Constitution. It has not been in evidence for thirty years.

The only person I busted on as much as I did Hillary Clinton, during the previous year’s insanity, was Donald Trump. Both failed to win my vote. Hillary Clinton proved, during the previous 35 years to be a woman devoid of ethics and substance. Trump has always been a face man, a clown and an excellent real estate promoter.

What he has yet to prove what kind of a president he’ll be, his prolific use of executive orders not withstanding. And it is with these orders I will start.

One of the main reasons I am not entirely unhappy with his use of the Imperial Pen, is that much of what he is doing with that pen is disposing of the truly imperial pronouncements of Barack Obama.

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The Executive Orders

These are pulled directly from a published list at FOX News.

  1. An executive order imposing a 120-day suspension of the refugee program and a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. from citizens of seven terror hot spots: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.
    • This one has drawn a great deal of rhetorical fire from many directions. Companies, to curry favor with the emotionalist class have come out against this order. Google, Nike, and others have built impromptu marketing campaigns with their stance. John McCain and Lindsay Graham have stated that this order will help terrorists recruit people. (Oh, so the bombing and killing they have carped for over many years won’t. But a temporary hold on admission to this country will be a devastating blow to our security!)
    • One of the complaints you hear about this is that Trump doesn’t have the authority to do it. Well the U.S. Constitution and this law say otherwise. Any objections based on presidential authority in this are simply wrong. 8 US Code 1182 outlines the people and groups that cannot be permitted into the country. The administration has EVERY RIGHT to require immigrants and YES refugees to prove they are not a threat under this law. The problem is for years we haven’t even been asking.
    • For those who can't read English:  This is not a Muslim ban.   This is a suspension of immigration based on geography and lack of verifiable ID.  If you say it is a Muslim ban, you are intellectually dishonest or intellectually disabled.
    • Score one for Trump.
  2. Multi-pronged orders on border security and immigration enforcement including: the authorization of a U.S.-Mexico border wall; the stripping of federal grant money to sanctuary cities; hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents; ending “catch-and-release” policies for illegal immigrants; and reinstating local and state immigration enforcement partnerships.
    • With the exception of the actually building the wall, all these orders are absolutely within the president’s purview to control as the chief executive. These are already law. He is just insisting the law, as it pertains to these areas, is enforced.
    • But the wall will never be built. Not only does Trump NOT have the authority to spend the billions needed to build it, but the processes by which it would be built are a matter of law. And many of those laws stand athwart such an undertaking. The environmental studies and protests alone will run the clock out before the next president could get it done.
    • Call this one a tie for pro and con. He can do all but the wall.
  3. Two orders reviving the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access piplines. He also signed three other related orders that would: expedite the environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects related to the pipelines; direct the Commerce Department to streamline the manufacturing permitting process; and give the Commerce Department 180 days to maximize the use of U.S. steel in the pipeline.
    • Naturally, the usual suspects will line up to decry everything about this. We’ll be told that the planet will be destroyed by it. And again we’ll hear how the president lacks the authority to do it. [insert loud game show loser buzzer hear]
    • Fact: The previous administration was required by law to allow both these projects to go forward. But hey found a loophole. The State Department, because Keystone was a joint venture between the US and Canada, had to sign off on the project. And they did – twice. But using his usual perversion of “executive authority”, Obama kept sending it back to Foggy Bottom with implicit orders to do it again, and this time be slower about it. Finally, after it was cleared yet again, Obama still defied the will of the people and stopped it anyway. By reviving the projects, Trump is simply bringing policy into line with the law.
    • As for the environment; I am sure there are morons out there that actually believe the use of a pipeline to move oil is bad. Others who claim so know they are talking through their hats. We are seeing history repeat itself.
      1. When the steel industry first started using pipelines to move kerosene and oil, the rail industry erupted in protest. It’s unsafe! It’s not fair! Now we’re hearing a lot of the same things today. 

        Rail car, oil

        If you have the choice of a pipeline, this is just plain stupid.

        pipeline

        Section of pipeline, sitting in Alaska, not derailing.

      2. Question: When was the last time you heard of a pipeline derailing and pouring oil, sometimes burning oil all over the landscape? True pipelines leak, but we’ve lost infinitely more oil through train crashes and derailments than we’ll ever lose from pipeline incidents.
      3. Question: While pipelines move oil, how much exhaust does the big diesel engine pulling the pipeline emit into the atmosphere? Oh, wait…that’s right. There is no big diesel engine. The system runs on pumps that move more gallons per minutes, further and on far less energy than a train does. So the movement of oil through a pipe is FAR cleaner than using a train.
    • I think it is safe to say that people who continue to fight this are being obstructionist. Trump is not operating outside his authority.
  1. An order to reinstate the so-called "Mexico City Policy" – a ban on federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion. The policy was instituted in 1984 by President Reagan, but has gone into and out of effect depending on the party in power in the White House.
    • This item has been a political football for a generation. Perhaps it can be used to shame Congress into manning up and dealing with it once and for all. It is Congress who should be addressing the issue.   That four Presidents have batted it back and forth for these past decades is just a pox on both your houses.
    • Someone has still to explain to me, in an honest fashion, why I should foot the bill for an abortion on-demand. A purely elective procedure.
  2. A notice that the U.S. will begin withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Trump called the order "a great thing for the American worker."
    • If Congress ratifies TPP, this order really isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Although, a determined executive can slow-walk its implementation.
    • In that it is not ratified, Trump can do anything he wishes in his treatment of it.
    • The president says he is a free-trade guy. There is no evidence of this, but since the TPP is not an example of free trade, Trump is well within his rights to ignore it for now.
  3. An order imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government workers as a way to shrink the size of government. This excludes the military, as Trump noted at the signing.
    • Trump can run his organization as he sees fit within the law. There is nothing preventing him from taking this step.
  4. An order that directs federal agencies to ease the “regulatory burdens” of ObamaCare. It orders agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement” of ObamaCare that imposes a “fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.”
    • This one is outside his wheelhouse. There are many, myself included who would love to see the government OUT of the insurance business. But that I want it doesn’t make changing the law by fiat okay. If the law says you have it or pay a penalty, you pay.
    • Of course, much of what the law has become has been the result of the imperial actions by Trump’s inept predecessor. Does that excuse the sweeping nature of Trumps order? No. It should have been focused on those illegal executive orders made by B. Hussein Obama. For example, Obama ordered that the law governing federal money to the states, based on their voluntary participation in the program, be ignored.   That was a huge breach of the legal, executive authority. If Trump had undone things like that, he’d be right on target.
  5. On Monday, 30 Jan, the president ordered that any new regulation must be offset by the elimination of two regulations.
    • We are one of the most over-regulated nations on the planet. That, historically speaking, is a relatively new development. Anything to legally reduce that burden is a good thing. And again, as the chief executive, the president is well within his purview to make pronouncements like this one.

Conclusion

Overall, I’d say Trump had a good first week. Reasonable people can disagree on whether it’s been a typical Trump circus atmosphere. No reasonable person would excuse his continued use of Twitter for shallow argument.

He is starting to show shades of a typical politician in that his tax reform was pushed back to the summer and now until as far as 2018. This is totally unsatisfactory. This will be a true failure on his part and even more so on the part of congressional Republicans. But even this pathetic decision has a silver lining.

You’ve heard me talk a bit about the Convention of States. In my next piece, I’ll show how not messing with taxes right now might payoff in the long run.

So for Trump's first week, I give the president a 6 for substance and a 10 for showmanship.

Oil car Photo Credit: James St. John Flickr via Compfight cc

Pipeline Photo Credit: US Department of State Flickr via Compfight cc

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Your host, Matt Jordan is the author of Street Politics:  It Ain't Your Daddy's GOP Anymore!

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