Like a stench that lingers in a room long after the rotting carcass has been removed, the legacy of the Donald Trump debacle of a presidency will stay with America even after he finally is dragged kicking and screaming from the White House.
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In the most nefarious waddling of his lame-duck weeks ahead, the Trump administration is setting up a minefield of last-minute policy changes in federal regulations that can be implemented without the pesky input of Congress and may prove difficult for the incoming Biden-Harris administration to undo quickly.
A new article at ProPublica details some of the proposed regulatory amendments that are being fast-tracked to be put in place before the reins of power are so ever-begrudgingly transferred to President-elect Biden.
The changes are almost universally designed to advance a pro-business, right-wing agenda that undercuts protections for workers and the environment, advances Trump’s anti-immigrant obsessions, and re-introduces barbaric execution methods into the federal arsenal of criminal punishment.
What’s even worse is that many of these new regulations — or, more appropriately, these regulatory rollbacks – will be difficult for the incoming Biden administration to reverse quickly, amounting to a metaphorical land-mining of the political landscape in the face of an advancing army of rationality.
“The bottom line is the Trump administration is trying to get things published in the Federal Register, leaving the next administration to sort out the mess,” said Matthew Kent, a regulatory policy tracker for the progressive advocacy group Public Citizen. “There are some real roadblocks to Biden being able to wave a magic wand on these.”
One small example of the types of changes that the Trump administration is trying to force through in record time is adjusting the speed with which chicken factories can operate their processing lines.
While faster processing lines can increase profits for big agriculture, it can also lead to more worker injuries and more frequent salmonella outbreaks.
According to ProPublica:
“Ordinarily, a change like this would take about two years to go through the cumbersome legal process of making new federal regulations. But the timing has alarmed food and worker safety advocates, who suspect the Trump administration wants to rush through this rule in its waning days.”
Other changes being rushed through cover things like the reintroduction of firing squads and the electric chair as acceptable execution methods in federal death penalty cases to the implementation of further restrictions on immigration by asylum seekers.
Even Donald Trump’s infamous obsession with water pressure and toilet flow is being addressed through newly loosened efficiency standards that ignore the opposition of appliance manufacturers due to the higher consumption and waste that they will engender.
While some of these new regulations may be able to be overturned by legal challenges, particularly if the Trump administration takes illegal shortcuts in seeking public comments on the rules in their rush to implement and publish them, some moves, like the expedited granting of mining leases in previously pristine federal wilderness lands, will be much harder to reverse and can result in permanent ecological damage at a time when the planet is already suffering from a devastating climate emergency.
You can read the full details of ProPublica‘s report on the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the incoming Biden regime through its last-minute barrage of rule-making at this link.
In the meantime, however, know that the best chance that the new Democratic administration will have to reverse any of the damage that these parting shots from Trump may create is if they have a Democratic Senate to help them pass the legislation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will surely do everything in his power to obstruct if he retains a majority.
Consider contributing to the campaigns of Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the two Democratic candidates in the January Georgia runoff elections, at this link.
Original reporting by Isaac Arnsdorf at ProPublica.
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