Jan 14, 2018

The Trump admin's "evil genius" idea

Trump and Obama in the Oval Office. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty

The Trump administration’s most audacious legislative idea ever will never see the light — but it shows how this White House has been looking for ways to salt the earth for its Democratic successors.

The theory: Last year, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Andrew Bremberg, told senior administration officials and Hill staff about an idea he had to tie the hands of future Democratic presidents. The idea would be for Trump to introduce a series of hardcore left-wing regulations — e.g. on climate change, the environment, labor and health care. Then, the Republican-controlled Congress would disapprove of these regulations using a law called the Congressional Review Act. That would bar future administrations introducing “substantially similar” regulations.

Why it won't happen: Trump administration officials are no longer seriously entertaining this idea, largely because Bremberg and others have recognized that it's politically infeasible. Republicans only have a one-vote margin in the Senate, and there's no way Mitch McConnell would waste precious floor time on such a moonshot.

But there are two reasons Bremberg and some senior players in the conservative legal community took this idea seriously:

  • It could be good politics. If the plan was executed quickly and perfectly — within the space of a week, for example — congressional Republicans could take a victory lap, saying they've prevented future presidents from regulating the heck out of the economy like Obama.
  • It could be a policy win for Hill Republicans, who would say they're giving some predictability to the business community about future executive actions.

In their first year of controlling Washington, Republicans have used the CRA more than a dozen times to undo regulations.

Why this matters: Though a top Republican source calls it “an evil genius idea that unfortunately will never happen,” it shows that this White House is equal parts creative and devious, with top aides already looking to hamstring their Democratic successors.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 5,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 5,100 people in the United States, as more state governors issued stay-at-home orders Wednesday to curb the spread. Over 216,000 people are now infected and more than 8,500 others have recovered.

The state of play: Trump administration officials are anonymously sounding the alarm that America's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment is running dangerously low, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 36 mins ago - Health

Trump admin won't reopen ACA enrollment for uninsured amid outbreak

President Trump speaks while flanked by Vice President Mike Pence during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Trump administration has decided not to reopen enrollment to uninsured Americans for the Affordable Care Act's Healthcare.gov marketplaces, an official confirmed to Axios Wednesday.

Driving the news: President Trump said last week he was considering the move in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, notes Politico, which first reported the news.

Go deeperArrow49 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 937,091 — Total deaths: 47,231 — Total recoveries: 193,764Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 ET: 216,515, — Total deaths: 5,119 — Total recoveries: 8,593Map.
  3. Business updates: Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World updates: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. 1 future thing: Shifts to telemedicine, at-home diagnostics, and drone delivery are all likely lasting consequences from this pandemic.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.