…Consider these developments in the last few days:
— The Trump administration is working on a budget that would gut environmental enforcement in this country — slashing $2 billion and 3,000 jobs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For example, an EPA program that seeks to reduce algae blooms and pollution that threatens the Great Lakes — yes, the same region where voters gave Trump his Electoral College victory — would be reduced from $300 million to just $10 million.
— Team Trump also wants to cut a whopping $500 million or so from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program that sends satellites aloft to monitor extreme weather and the effects of climate change. The former head of the agency told the Washington Post, “Cutting NOAA’s satellite budget will compromise NOAA’s mission of keeping Americans safe from extreme weather and providing forecasts that allow businesses and citizens to make smart plans.” But given the president’s hostility to global warming science, that was probably the idea.
— In the same vein, Big Auto asked the Trump administration for help in rolling back tough rules on curbing tailpipe emissions and converting to electric cars that would have reduced America’s greenhouse gas emissions by about one-third. The Trump administration asked industry, in so many words, how fast would you like us to get that out to you?
— Those rules won’t get as much attention as Trump’s looming order on a new travel ban — ignoring findings from his own Homeland Security Department that visitors from the affected countries aren’t committing terrorist acts — or his immigration crackdown. While Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) continues to operate on steroids in major American cities, the administration is weighing a new policy that would separate migrant children from their mothers at border crossings. “That type of thing is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, said.
That type of thing also used to be major news — but not in a time when we are so easily distracted by President Trump’s roving thumbs. But the reality is that — for all the media coverage of a White House implosion — the Trump administration really is “a fine-tuned machine” when it comes to serving its corporate benefactors and gutting any pretense of regulatory oversight. I did, however, add the word “(almost)” to the headline of this piece because the New York Times is out tonight with a really good overview of all the favors that the new president’s crew has performed for Big Business, even as they poison the air and the water that Trump’s blue-collar voters ingest.
The newspaper chronicled more than 90 rules affecting the public’s health or safety or protecting consumers that have been rolled back, eliminated or gutted in just the first six weeks of the Trump administration. It’s a startling change — one that the Times called the “leading edge” of top Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s scheme for “the destruction of the administrative state.”
I guess you could say that screwing over the little guy to benefit billionaire campaign donors and corporations isn’t exactly brand new — but it’s never been done this fast, this blatantly, and with this little compassion. I don’t know if Trump’s policies are “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” but I do consider them a crime against human decency. And even if Trump were to be miraculously impeached over Russia or gets 25th Amendment-ed to a farm upstate, do you think that a President Mike Pence would care a flying fig about the purity of your tap water?
Sometimes I think about the launch of the Trump administration in terms of Ronald Reagan and his famous 1984 re-election ad, “Morning in America.” But morning in Donald Trump’s America is a place where the Houston sunrise struggles to break through the smog, where coal plants are up early dumping toxic goo into your streams, and Latin American families hide behind closed curtains, fearing a knock on their door. And the worst part is that the sun isn’t even over the treetops yet.