Trump 101: He plans rapid, radical gutting of government regulations - Axios
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Trump 101: He plans rapid, radical gutting of government regulations

Photo illustration Lazaro Gamio / Axios

One of the most fervent, but least discussed, elements of President Trump's master plan is the deconstruction of the regulatory state — hobbling EPA, Interior, Energy and more in a bid to — as aides see it— "open up the animal spirits of the economy."

You might call his Cabinet secretaries of the domestic departments "the gutters." Internally, they are known by some as "deconstructors," the men and one woman (Betsy Devos at the Department of Education) tapped because of their shared view in eviscerating key pieces of the agencies they will run.

The blueprint became visible when we connected the dots in department-by-department and agency-by-agency conversations. And when top advisers talked about what animated the selections of very conservative, very anti-government picks for the agencies with big regulatory reach.

A senior transition source said: "This is an important area that has flown under the radar among Democrats, and even Republicans and conservatives. President Trump plans to attack the regulatory state from every angle. The government has been captured by elites, which gets to the very core of what animates the president."

How this will unfold: According to internal administration documents that we viewed, plans include withdrawing or suspending major Obama rules that were not finalized; reopening major rules that have been finalized if they have "highly negative economic consequences"; suspending "forthcoming grants to non-profit groups and universities pending review"; and suspending some hires in progress.

A Republican lobbyist told us after meetings in Trump Tower and the West Wing that the Trump plan is clever because it undermines the regulatory machine, which the president can do by executive action, rather than trying to dismantle the machinery, which requires congressional approval and would be difficult to achieve quickly.

The targets:

  • Environmental Protection Agency: Top priorities include unwinding Obama's Clean Power Plan and regulations for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Trump insiders also want to reopen the process for determining the appropriate fuel economy standards (CAFE).
  • Department of the Interior: Re-open the so-called five-year leasing plan, which is used to determine the offshore areas available for energy exploration.
  • Department of Energy: Freeze on all regulations, loan guarantees, and deployment of energy technologies. The plan is to evaluate all of them on a case-by-case basis and unwind the elements of Obama's Climate Action Plan under the purview of the DOE.
  • Department of Education: There are two big potential actions that some of his education advisers are pushing. Creating a tax credit program to support the educational needs of students is one idea. Making Title I funding portable is another. Title I funding makes up the largest portion of federal education spending. Currently the funding – which goes to poor kids – is given to public schools to administer. Some senior Trump officials wanted to give that money directly to families to use as they see fit (which could mean private schools.) That act alone would be highly disruptive and would enrage progressives. Another major — and less discussed — priority is likely to be reforming Obama's federal loan programs for higher education. Trump insiders believe the federal government has gone way beyond its proper bounds as a loans provider.
The power behind the throne: Much like the nationalistic inaugural speech, and today's push for new immigration restrictions, the quick-strike, hard-line approach to gutting regulation was championed by strategist Steve Bannon and policy guru Stephen Miller, among others.
Previously in Trump 101:

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Collins will oppose Senate health care bill

Sen. Susan Collins said she opposes the Senate's health care plan. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Sen. Susan Collins officially said she will oppose the Senate's latest bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act — yet another nail in the coffin for a bill that's moving further away from the 50 votes it would need to pass.

Why it matters: It would only take three "no" votes to kill the bill. And Collins' opposition makes it a total of four Republicans who say they won't vote for the bill — two moderates (Collins and Sen. John McCain) and two conservatives (Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz).

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Report: 'Iranian missile test' Trump tweeted about never happened

Missiles are on display in Tehran on Sunday during the country's annual Defense Week. Photo: Vahid Salemi / AP

On Friday, Iran claimed to have tested a new medium-range ballistic missile capable of striking Israel with multiple warheads — but, according to Fox News, that missile launch never actually took place. Video footage purporting to show the launch was actually from a failed test back in January.

Why it matters: The world is waiting to hear President Trump's decision — he claimed to have made up his mind last week — on whether or not to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. It's significant that Trump used the "launch" to again decry the deal, tweeting on Saturday: "Not much of an agreement we have!"

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Irma captured America's attention more than other storms

It's been a busy hurricane season, with three powerful hurricanes hitting and one just missing U.S. territories. Here's when and how often Americans' searched Google each of them.

Data: Google Trends; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why it matters: Irma received the most attention, according to Google, likely due to reports it'd be the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the U.S. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria, but interest from the U.S. is substantially less than during both Harvey and Irma.

Note: This search data does not include Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans were highly interested in both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, with the least interest in Harvey.

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Target to raise minimum wage to $11 per hour, $15 by 2020

Elise Amendola / AP

Target has announced it will raise its minimum wage from $10 per hour to $11 across all U.S. stores, CNBC reports. The changes will begin in October and are part of Target's $7 billion re-investment in the company. Target has promised an hourly minimum wage of $15 by 2020.

The context: Target has been in a wage war with Wal-mart, which raised base hourly pay to $10 in 2016. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and it has not increased since 2009.

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White House: "We've not declared war on North Korea"

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivers a news briefing at the White House. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Sarah Sanders said Monday that the White House has "not declared war on North Korea," as the country's foreign minister claimed this morning. Sanders added that "frankly, the suggestion of that is absurd."

  • On criticism of Trump's NFL comments: "This isn't about the president being against anyone, but about millions of Americans being for something." Later Sanders said that if NFL players are protesting police brutality, then "they should protest the officers on the field," not the flag.
  • Did Trump go too far in calling some players SOB's that should be fired? "It's always appropriate for the president to defend our flag, defend our national anthem."
  • On Trump tweeting about NFL but not Puerto Rico: "He's emphasizing something that should be unifying... Celebrating and promoting patriotism in our country is something that should bring everyone together."
  • Puerto Rico recovery efforts: Federal response to Hurricane Maria is "anything but slow," said Sanders. Trump sent FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert to Puerto Rico today.
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NFL won't punish players who didn't take field for national anthem

At a Sunday game, the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans are absent from the sidelines during the national anthem. Photo: Mark Zaleski / AP

Despite a rule in the NFL game operations manual that requires players to be on the sidelines when the anthem is played, league spokesman Joe Lockhart said, "There will be no discipline handed down this week for anyone who was not there [during the playing of the national anthem]."

Why it matters: President Trump used Twitter to urge the NFL to discipline its players, but the league, along with several franchise owners and coaches, is standing behind the players who chose to protest the anthem.

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Supreme Court cancels hearing on Trump's travel ban

Justice Neil Gorsuch shakes hands with Chief Justice John Roberts outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Supreme Court will no longer hold a hearing on October 10 on the constitutionality of President Trump's travel ban, now that the ban has been replaced by an updated order barring or restricting travel from 8 countries.
Where things stand: The court has not cancelled the case altogether, but will allow both sides to file fresh briefs on Trump's new order by October 5. But, per the NYT's Adam Liptak, "by canceling the arguments for now, the court signaled that it may never decide the case."
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Huffington: Brands like Uber can no longer "hide behind" ad campaigns

Arianna Huffington sits on Uber's board of directors. Photo: Charles Sykes / Invision via AP

Arianna Huffington, who co-founded the Huffington Post and is an Uber board member, reflected on Uber's culture crisis at Fortune and TIME's CEO Initiative, saying "the days when brands could hide behind expensive advertising campaigns are gone." Today, private company memos and comments at board meetings quickly become public — a trend that contributed to the development of the Uber crisis over the summer, Huffington said.

The gritty details: Uber's hyper-growth came at the cost of "worshipping top performers," Huffington said. "If you were a top performer, a lot was forgiven ... I named them 'brilliant jerks.'"

More from Huffington's interview:

  • On private company matters going public: "The consumer needs to love all of the company ... The world has changed. You can't just have a great product. You also need to be a great company."
  • On diversity at Uber: "If you have a workplace that has a couple of ping-pong tables but not a corner for young mothers to pump milk, that's not hospitable to women."
  • On the importance of sleep: Sleep deprivation "costs businesses." Huffington's company Thrive Global recently published a piece by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on why shareholders benefit when he gets 8 hours of sleep.
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GOP senators propose conservative alternative to Dream Act

From L-R, Tillis, Lankford, Hatch. Photo: Screengrab via CSPAN

GOP Sens. Thom Tillis and James Lankford, joined by Sen. Orrin Hatch, announced the Succeed Act, a conservative alternative to the Dream Act that would give Dreamers a pathway to citizenship with a host of Republican-friendly restrictions.

Why it matters: President Trump has expressed a desire to allow Dreamers to stay in the United States, indicating to Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi that he'd support the Dream Act — provided that it came packaged with increased border security measures. The Tilis-Lankford plan might give Republicans another path forward on immigration.

Lankford said Trump called him late at night to discuss his ideas on the issues, while Tillis said the "far-right and the far-left" don't seem interested in reaching a permanent solution. Hatch said he wanted to pass something that would recognize the "positive contributions" Dreamers were making in U.S. society.

The model:

  • Eligibility would be extended to undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. under the age of 16 and have been in the country since DACA's inception in June 2012.
  • Young immigrants need to pass a criminal background check and receive a high school diploma, and pay off any back taxes in order to gain "conditional permanent residence," a status they'll have to maintain for 10 years via a college education, steady employment, or military service before they can obtain a green card.
  • Once the young immigrants get a green card, they can apply for citizenship after 5 years.

The big restriction: Young immigrants wouldn't be able to sponsor their parents or family members for permanent residency until they became citizens, essentially creating a 15-year window to prevent "chain migration."

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Report: Hill aide stock trades pose conflicts of interest

An aide whispers to Sen. Dick Durbin as the Senate Judiciary Committee questions top Obama administration officials about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Some senior Congressional aides buy and sell stocks that could have a conflict of interest with their work, according to reporting by Politico. Since May 2015, around 450 aides have bought or sold stock of more than $1K value. There are probably more instances, as aides who make less than $124,406 are not required to report their stock purchases.

Why it matters: It's the aides who often have the more hands-on role in writing the details of legislation that impacts these companies, not the members. While the executive branch is far more strict about violating federal conflict-of-interest laws, and actual members of Congress might face much tougher scrutiny, Congress refuses to crack down on rules about stock trading.

Example: In the nine days between the drug company Mylan being accused by Senate Judiciary Committee leaders of violating Medicaid laws and reaching a multi-million dollar settlement, a Senate Judiciary Committee aide sold $4,004-$60,000 worth of stock in the company, according to Politico.

Throwback: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price faced criticism during his Senate hearing for buying stocks in a small biotech company after sitting in health care committees with influence on legislation that would effect the company. Shortly after Price's harsh questioning, several Congressman also invested in the same biotech company.

See Politico's piece for other aides who are known to have traded stocks.