The message is clear: regulations kill jobs. We care about protecting our small businesses, working families and farmers and we know these regulations often have negative and unintended consequences on these groups,” said Reed. “It’s only right that we put a stop to these efforts and spare many from politically motivated big government overreach.–Rep. Tom Reed, Jan. 2017
During the Obama Administration Tom Reed vehemently opposed executive rule-making. That was then, now it is no problem. Tom’s concern was then was that health and safety regulations might cost businesses, but he evidently has no concern that repeal of regulations might threaten the peoples health and safety or allow employers to steal from employees.
212: In November 2017 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would ease oversight of rules governing glider kit trucks. Glider kits are used to rebuild old truck engines. This is a less costly alternative but one that comes with environmental consequences. Regulations approved during the Obama Administration require trucks to meet stricter emissions standards and included trucks with rebuilt engines under those rules. The Trump Administration now contends that rebuilt engines aren’t new engines so they do not need to meet the higher emission standards. This is one of the many ways the Trump Administration has rolled back environmental initiatives.
213: According to December 2017 news reports, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent over $14,000 to book government helicopters so he could travel more quickly to events in the Washington, D.C. area. Zinke is already under investigation by the Interior Department’s Inspector General for other questionable trips using government funded planes. This is one more glaring example of a disregard for taxpayer dollars.
214: A December analysis by the New York Times illustrates a troubling drop in enforcement activity by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when compared to the two previous administrations. The EPA is pursuing far fewer cases and collecting less money in fines for violations. The New York Times review of internal EPA documentation shows that the reversal of course on enforcement is partially the result of changes in policy. The documents reviewed also reveal that EPA enforcement officers have been stripped of some important tools. For example, officers must now obtain permission from EPA headquarters before ordering certain routine environmental testing. These tests provide necessary documentation that help investigators pursue cases against polluters. Officials could deny requests for testing and the additional bureaucratic requirements will certainly delay processing cases. This is a clear threat to the environment. Hundreds of EPA employees have left the agency since Trump took office, making it even more difficult to exercise appropriate oversight. The long-term impacts of the systematic undermining of the EPA will be devastating and not easy to reverse.
215: In December of 2017 the Department of Transportation announced it would stop efforts to implement a rule requiring airlines to disclose baggage and other fees when a consumer purchases an airline ticket. The rule (which is now dead) simply required airlines to make sure consumers knew how much money they were spending on an airline ticket up front. I have filed legislation in the past requiring fee disclosure because consumers have the right to know what they’re paying for. I was pleased when the DOT moved forward on this basic consumer action without waiting for a legislative solution and am disappointed in this reversal.
216: In December of 2017 the Washington Post reported that the Trump Administration directed various Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies to avoid using seven specific words while drafting budget documents:vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based. This announcement generated outrage from advocacy groups, the scientific community and others. It is unclear why this directive was issued but there has been concern it is linked to project funding and the impact that the use of these words could have on the federal budget. Think about that for a minute. There is a concern that the use of a word like diversity or fetus will endanger project funding? And what harm is there in evidence or science based policy? This is a chilling development.
217: In December of 2017 the Department of Labor proposed a rule giving restaurant employers the right to collect all the tips employees earn and share them with staff who do not typically receive them, such as a chef or dishwasher. The proposed rule will NOT require restaurants to distribute tips to an employee if they are making at least the federal minimum wage. So, a manager could collect tips from servers and bartenders but would not have to redistribute them to an employee if they make minimum wage, even if that employee earned the tip in the first place. To put it bluntly, this rule allows employers to steal tips left for their employees.
At one time Volkswagen was compelled to recognize that cheating on diesel emissions was a criminal matter requiring billions to be spent in restitution. Shortly later, truck engine rebuilders learn that their profits are more important than emissions. Thus concern over executive action turns into its opposite–indifference.