Memoirs of the Addams Administration 4.

In his second week in office, President Trump issued an executive order requiring that any new regulation must be accompanied by the removal of two existing regulations.[1]  Given the cumbersome mechanism for removing existing rules and regulations, this should put a stop to new rules and regulations for a year.[2]  (He allowed an exception for national security-related issues.)  A cost-benefit analysis of this issue is murky.  The Office of Management and Budget suggests that regulations drain-off $110 billion a year from the economy.  On the other hand, the same regulations may save the economy an estimated $872 billion a year.  The “benefits” of regulation actually are non-monetary and can be difficult to calculate in a conventional manner.[3]  In short, neither the “costs,” nor the “benefits” of regulation can be calculated.

President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created when Antonin Scalia augured-in.  Judge Gorsuch is a highly-regarded jurist, as was Judge Merrick Garland, who was denied even a hearing in a shameless piece of Republican obstructionism.[4]  He’s also 49 years-old and could sit on the Court for decades, short-circuiting every Democratic initiative launched by the turn of semi-annual or quadrennial elections.  Democrats demonstrated dismay.  “This is a stolen seat,” declared Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon); the “Republicans stole this seat from Obama” declared the Charlotte Observer (D-North Carolina); while the Atlantic (D-Massachusetts) denounced it as a “deal with the devil.”

Still, the Republicans controlled the Senate when President Obama nominated Judge Garland.  They weren’t going to approve a pro-Democratic Justice when the election tides had been running against the Democrats for three out of four successive elections.  Hearing followed by rejection isn’t any different than rejection through no hearings.  The assumption in the White House appears to have been that whichever party held the White House got to choose which ever justice it wanted for the Supreme Court.  If that’s true, then what about Robert Bork?[5]

[1] “Washington: Trump orders regulatory rollback,” The Week, 10 February 2017, p. 32.

[2] See Emmarie Huetteman, “How Republicans Will Try to Rescind Obama Regulations,” NYT, 31 January 2017.

[3] Perhaps not everything can be reduced to a balance sheet.  Still, do we want a flight into mysticism and “personal feelings” on behalf of people whose standard of living depends upon other people generating wealth?

[4] “Battle lines drawn over Supreme Court pick,” The Week, 10 February 2017, p. 5.

[5] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bork

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