A very chilling Executive Action on Donald Trump's first day in office

A crazy thing has happened to the U.S., reality TV star Donald J Trump has been elected President. He brought within him into power a litany of people who are hell-bent on Conservative causes - pretty much all the Cabinet Secretary's are people who'd previously promised to destroy the agencies they were appointed to lead, for example.

On his first day in office, Trump signed several executive orders one of which is extremely chilling. But, are those orders the primary topic of conversation in the news? No, instead there's a debate raging about the size of the audience for the Inauguration (and whether Trump lied about that), and several other lies spoken by Trump and his team. Oh, and this new phrase, that Trump's team isn't lying, but they're presenting "alternate facts". Alternate facts are lies, and it's crazy-making that the Trump organization is believing various lies and then making policy decisions based on those lies.

But that's not what I'm here about today. Instead I'm here about an executive action, on Trump's first day in office, that has Reince Preibus's name on it. Reince was previously the Chairman of the Republican Party, and joined the Trump team in the White House. It's Reince that's pictured here, because his name is plastered on the executive action announcement, which you can read here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/20/memorandum-heads-... (the text is replicated below)

Basically -- all regulations issued by the Federal Government must now be approved by political appointees of the Trump Administration. Oh, and it reinstates Executive Order 13422 -- an order issued by President G.W. Bush (#43) that changed how regulations were to be reviewed for economic impact. (archive copy: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13422) Barack Obama had revoked that order, and some others, when he came to office (archive: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13497)

If you're like me, the contents of #13422 is gobbledygook, since it's changing words here and there in another Executive Order issued in the 1930's. Fortunately there are some analyses of that Executive Order making it easier to understand what it's about.

The Center for Progressive Reform (http://www.progressivereform.org/execOrder13422.cfm) describes it as "a series of new and unprecedented steps making it harder for administrative agencies to adopt regulations protecting health, safety and the environment." And that "At the heart of Executive Order 13422 was an effort to tighten White House control of the regulatory process and to establish criteria for regulations that made it harder for agencies to enforce statutes that protect against a variety of health, safety and environmental hazards."

The Center for Effective Government (http://www.ombwatch.org/node/9662) applauded Obama's rescinding of #13422 describing it as "President George W. Bush’s attempts to paralyze the regulatory process." They describe two main objectives of #13422 as:

  1. First, the order gave agency "regulatory policy officers" the ability to scuttle proposed regulations without the input of the public or agency experts.
  2. Second, the order granted the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) the power to review and edit agency guidance documents – a class which could include agency opinions, scientific documents, or memoranda and which, by definition, are nonbinding.

Trump's new order certainly institutes something like "regulatory policy officers" whose job would be to scuttle regulations they don't agree with, etc.

Bottom line: While it's worrisome that Trump's team is lying and lying and lying and lying, to an extent is that meant to be a distraction while they commit other actions? Is the impact of the following being discussed anywhere in the news? Isn't it extremely important that Trump's team, on day 1, has moved to hobble government? Oh, and as if this one isn't enough, they've also instituted a hiring freeze across the federal government, and gag orders have been imposed on several agencies aimed at preventing those agencies from talking to the Press. Taken together, our government is being hobbled and weakened. And will that mean businesses will be free to run roughshod over all of us, with the Government too weakened to be able to reign in corporate excess?

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

FROM: Reince Priebus, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

SUBJECT: Regulatory Freeze Pending Review

The President has asked me to communicate to each of you his plan for managing the Federal regulatory process at the outset of his Administration. In order to ensure that the President's appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations, I ask on behalf of the President that you immediately take the following steps:

  1. Subject to any exceptions the Director or Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (the "OMB Director") allows for emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, or national security matters, or otherwise, send no regulation to the Office of the Federal Register (the "OFR") until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President after noon on January 20, 2017, reviews and approves the regulation. The department or agency head may delegate this power of review and approval to any other person so appointed or designated by the President, consistent with applicable law.
  2. With respect to regulations that have been sent to the OFR but not published in the Federal Register, immediately withdraw them from the OFR for review and approval as described in paragraph 1, subject to the exceptions described in paragraph 1. This withdrawal must be conducted consistent with OFR procedures.
  3. With respect to regulations that have been published in the OFR but have not taken effect, as permitted by applicable law, temporarily postpone their effective date for 60 days from the date of this memorandum, subject to the exceptions described in paragraph 1, for the purpose of reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy they raise. Where appropriate and as permitted by applicable law, you should consider proposing for notice and comment a rule to delay the effective date for regulations beyond that 60-day period. In cases where the effective date has been delayed in order to review questions of fact, law, or policy, you should consider potentially proposing further notice-and-comment rulemaking. Following the delay in effective date
    1. for those regulations that raise no substantial questions of law or policy, no further action needs to be taken; and
    2. for those regulations that raise substantial questions of law or policy, agencies should notify the OMB Director and take further appropriate action in consultation with the OMB Director.
  4. Exclude from the actions requested in paragraphs 1 through 3 any regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines and identify such exclusions to the OMB Director as soon as possible.
  5. Notify the OMB Director promptly of any regulations that, in your view, should be excluded from the directives in paragraphs 1 through 3 because those regulations affect critical health, safety, financial, or national security matters, or for some other reason. The OMB Director will review any such notifications and determine whether such exclusion is appropriate under the circumstances.
  6. Continue in all circumstances to comply with any applicable Executive Orders concerning regulatory management.

As used in this memorandum, "regulation" has the meaning given to "regulatory action" in section 3(e) of Executive Order 12866, and also includes any "guidance document" as defined in section 3(g) thereof as it existed when Executive Order 13422 was in effect. That is, the requirements of this memorandum apply to "any substantive action by an agency (normally published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and notices of proposed rulemaking," and also covers any agency statement of general applicability and future effect "that sets forth a policy on a statutory, regulatory, or technical issue or an interpretation of a statutory or regulatory issue."

This regulatory review will be implemented by the OMB Director. Communications regarding any matters pertaining to this review should be addressed to the OMB Director.

The OMB Director is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

REINCE PRIEBUS