White House strategist Steve Bannon's project for the "deconstruction of the administrative state" appears to be out of the starting blocks and well on its way toward a glorious victory lap. Using executive orders and other directives, President Trump has so far:
- Curbed several of President Obama's climate regulations, notably the Clean Power Plan to move America away from coal dependency.
- Ordered a review of tougher US vehicle fuel-efficiency standards put in place by the previous administration.
- Directed the Treasury secretary to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law.
- Instructed the Labor Department to delay implementing an Obama rule requiring financial professionals who are giving advice on retirement -- and who charge commissions -- to put their client's interests first.
- Instructed agencies that for every new regulation introduced, two existing ones need to be abolished.
- Required every agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate regulations and recommend rules for repeal or modification.
- Revived the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
- Imposed a hiring freeze for federal government workers (excluding the military) as a way to shrink the size of government.
- Directed federal agencies to ease the "regulatory burdens" of Obamacare.
But that's not all. The president has nominated officials who clearly intend to gut the agencies over which they will preside (notably Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, Scott Pruitt at EPA, Alexander Acosta at Labor, and Rick Perry at Energy). And he has submitted a proposed budget that would dramatically cut funding for every department other than the military. Environmental, worker, financial, and consumer regulations are about to disappear by the batch, bale, and bushel. While the Reagan and Bush II administrations sought to aggressively weed out unwanted federal rules, Trump appears to be taking a flamethrower to the entire garden patch.