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First 100 Days: The Executive Orders

Well if you are going to be completely unimaginative, you could write a summary of the first 100 days of the Trump White House. Admittedly, the Legislative achievements are just a bit lacking. Feel free to overharvest bears in Alaska’s various wildlife refuges (Public Law 115-20) or to visit the Abie Abraham VA Clinic if you are ever in Butler County, Pennsylvania (Public Law 115-9). (For what it’s worth, Abraham had quite a life and we should definitely name a VA Clinic for him). Congressional action is most notable for a vote not even taken.

But Donald Trump’s much-publicized Executive Orders? Maybe that’s what is really getting America back on track. As a tribute of sorts to the lunacy coming out, I thought it would be fun to go through them all and see what we’ve won.

  • January 20, Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal

This was the start of Trump’s effort to subvert the ACA. The idea being that hurting the healthcare system would presumably bring Democrats to the table, so they could further harm the healthcare system. Interestingly, this EO wasn’t entirely bad; it included a couple common-sense changes. On the first day of his Presidency, Trump had clearly not yet formulated his plan for how he would deal with the ACA.

  • January 24, Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects

Intended to streamline approvals for infrastructure projects, it was followed by memoranda approving two new pipelines. It was supposed to be part of a larger infrastructure push; no progress has been made there.

  • January 25, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements

Directs a wall to be built along the US-Mexico border. Of course, there is no money coming. So, it is dependent on Mexico paying the cost, but Trump is working very hard on this.

  • January 25, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

This was Trump’s attempt to prevent cities acting as “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants. It has mostly been held up or blocked by the courts. Of course, undocumented immigrants are less dangerous than other residents, so not clear how this relates to the stated goal of public safety.

  • January 27, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States

The first version of the infamous Muslim Ban. The clear (if unstated) religious discrimination made it clearly illegal and major provisions were properly blocked by various courts. There is no data that those prevented from entering posed any real threat to safety of the American people. On the other hand, the harm done to our image caused great damage in the international community and especially our strategic position in the Muslim world.

  • January 28, Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees

Prohibited Executive Branch appointees from serving as lobbyists in any form for five years after departure; and for life, with respect to lobbying for foreign governments. Of course, the President has the ability to waive this requirement for any reason; he isn’t shy about issuing waivers of similar types. Given the high rate of foreign agents among his senior staff, the lifetime ban on foreign lobbying…well it isn’t exactly draining much swamp.

  • January 30, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

This one directs agencies to repeal two existing regulations for each new regulation. It also says that the total expenditure shouldn’t increase due to new regulations.

Number of regulations might sound like a good metric – but it is easily avoided (just include the text of the two old ones in the one new one). Similarly, “regulatory cost” is a great buzzword – but most analyses say that the benefits of regulations outweigh their costs. Which makes sense – they weren’t put in for no reason. If there are specific regulations that are bad – he should repeal those regulations. This EO just passes the buck.

  • February 3, Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System

A statement of principles and request for review, this one probably got less attention than it deserves. In case you missed it, here are the Trump Administration Core Principles for Financial Regulation:

  • Empower Americans to make independent financial decisions and informed choices in the marketplace, save for retirement, and build individual wealth

  • Prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts

  • Foster economic growth and vibrant financial markets through more rigorous regulatory impact analysis that addresses systemic risk and market failures, such as moral hazard and information asymmetry

  • Enable American companies to be competitive with foreign firms in domestic and foreign markets

  • Advance American interests in international financial regulatory negotiations and meetings

  • Restore public accountability within Federal financial regulatory agencies and rationalize the Federal financial regulatory framework.

Honestly, this EO doesn’t drive me crazy – except for the hint at “Fed Audit” in the last Principle.

  • February 9, Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking

I don’t have a lot of color here – it seems to be what it says. Some plans to work on criminal organizations and trafficking. Well outside my comfort zone to really understand any broader implications.

  • February 9, Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers

Another statement of principles, this one about fighting the War on Cops™. No disrespect to Cops. But as a point of data: Police work is not among the ten most dangerous jobs in America.

  • February 9, Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired for refusing to enforce the illegal Muslim ban (see #5 above). This EO allowed Trump to get who he wanted as the new Acting Attorney General. It was revoked when the new AG was approved.

  • February 9, Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety

Another statement of principles; nice to see that it is the policy of the Administration to reduce crime. And I’m sure a Task Force will get it done!

  • February 24, Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda

The new Administration is serious about reducing regulatory overhead and simplifying government. So Trump created a new Task Force to add a layer to government in order to simplify government. Also, each department needs new “Regulatory Reform Officer.” I’m far from the first one to point out the irony of adding a new layer of bureaucracy in order to help cut the bureaucracy.

  • February 28, Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the "Waters of the United States" Rule