Thursday, January 25, 2018

Trump the Autocrat

How many times have we heard that Donald Trump is in incipient or actual autocrat? How many times has the press told us that Trump is a dictator, a bully, a bulldozer imposing his will and his personality on the nation?

In a true autocracy, decisions come down from the top. Autocratic leaders dictate policy. They have their hands in everything. They refuse to delegate authority to their underlings and hirelings.

And yet, as this Politico report explains, the Trump administration is all about delegating authority to cabinet secretaries. Trump has given them a free hand to set their own agendas and to implement them. When it comes to autocratic rule, the prize goes to the Obama administration that, as Nancy Cook writes, “infamously micromanaged policy from the West Wing.”

Her story merits your attention:

While the Obama administration infamously micromanaged policy from the West Wing, the Trump White House has given Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs almost total freedom to do what they want, according to two close advisers to the White House.

Since the start of the year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has quietly opened the door to sharply limiting Medicaid; DHS has revoked a special immigration status for Salvadorans; and the Department of Interior has moved to open up federal land to offshore drilling.

“When you have knowledgeable and experienced people who know what they want to do, and are given running room from the White House to do what they want to do, you can get a lot done and get it done quickly,” said Tevi Troy, CEO of the American Health Policy Institute and former deputy secretary of HHS under President George W. Bush.

Cook offers some examples:

CMS, headed by close Vice President Mike Pence ally Seema Verma, dramatically tweaked Medicaid recently by beginning to allow states to impose work requirements on some recipients — a longheld goal of conservatives that starts to chip away at the program that forms the backbone of Obamacare….

HHS also unveiled a proposed rule to overhaul its civil rights office and offer protection to health workers who do not want to perform services like abortion or treat transgender patients because of religious or moral reasons.

Over at the EPA, Administrator Scott Pruitt has been aggressively rolling back parts of the Obama era’s environmental legacy, including a proposed ban on a pesticide that scientists say adversely affects people’s health.

The Education Department, under Secretary Betsy DeVos, rescinded the Obama-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assault, and the FCC voted to end so-called net neutrality rules that prevented large internet providers like AT&T from slowing internet traffic to some websites. That latter decision now faces a court challenge from 21 states and several public interest groups.

DHS opted to revoke the temporary protected status of 200,000 people from El Salvador who have legally lived and worked in the U.S. following a devastating earthquake in 2001 in that country. Similarly, in November, the Trump administration ended the special immigration status for Haitians. Combined, these moves advance the Trump campaign agenda of getting tougher on immigration.

Meanwhile, Scott Gottlieb at the FDA has accelerated the process to approve generic drugs — even though he has been in his position only since May.

So much for the Trumpian autocracy.


Sam L. said...

Well, he IS. There's a camp in the forest being set up near me, and I KNOW it's for illegal aliens and ISIS bombers. And the odd Democrat (but aren't they all?) And that's not all. There's a knock at my door; be right back.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I’m certain that Ares Olympus wants to share his wisdom on this one...

It’s the Russians! The Russians have taken up residence in all our minds because we know EVERYONE is on Facebook and Twitter.

Be very, very afraid.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I have not seen Donald Trump say “Let Chief Justice Roberts enforce his order” yet.

When I do, I’ll be concerned. Until then, it’s game on...

Ares Olympus said...

Sure IAC! But when have I mentioned Russians?

What might be spun as prudent delegation can also be apathy. The best his Secretaries can hope for is to avoid his attention, until they're ready to sell it to him, if they must.

And if what's important to Trump is winning, then his underlings can do all their best work, but unless at the last step, they can convince him that he's winning, that he'll gain credit and praise by the people who are willing to express praise, they probably will be overridden. Rule by vanity might be another type of autocratic rule.

Ronald Reagan did a lot of napping I guess, and perhaps that encouraged the illegal actions of his underlings. So hopefully someone below Trump, interested in not embarrassing the administration, is expressing a little curiosity, even if that's also called micromanaging by people who would rather act without being seen.