A few weeks ago, Donald Trump's top White House strategist Steve Bannon vowed to bring about the "deconstruction of the administrative state". On today's BradCast, it sure looks like he's getting what he and Trump set out for. [Audio link to show posted below.]
First up today, after a week of devastating analyses of the bill by GOP leadership and Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and replace it with the American Health Care Plan (the Republican plan), the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally came out today with its estimate [PDF] of what the scheme will cost Americans in money and health care. And it isn't pretty.
Some 14 million Americans will go without health insurance in 2018 under the Republican scheme, according to the CBO's estimate, which they note is based on "the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes." Some 24 million Americans will go without by 2026, as compared to projections for the current law. Hardest hit, as a number of reports over the weekend have found: elderly and rural voters in areas where support for Donald Trump was highest in the 2016 election.
Then, as Trump prepares to announce his "historic" slashing of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of federal jobs from non-military programs, hundreds, if not thousands of key roles at Executive agencies across the federal government remain unfilled. Many agencies are currently gutted following the resignation and/or firings of Obama staffers, and top appointments remain vacant in the meantime (because Trump has failed to nominate people to fill the roles, much less see public Senate confirmation hearings for the appointees.)
In the meantime, hundreds of unknown campaign staffers with no government experience at all, and others who are longtime industry lobbyists, are still heading up his "beachhead" transition teams, effectively controlling dozens of federal agencies on behalf of the Trump Administration. Those findings come via an analysis by ProPublica, based on responses to public records requests
Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), joins us to explain what that means, and the havoc these folks --- some just out of high school and college who had worked on the Trump campaign, others lobbyists for industries being overseen by the very federal agencies they now oversee --- are able to wreak on government and policy while barely even being noticed by media or Congress.
"The level of separation between industry and the government has gone from a thin veneer of separation to no separation whatsoever," Hauser warns, describing the situation as "an intentional breeding ground for corruption".
"The State Department is a topic of particular concern," he tells me. "They have only nominated the Secretary of State. That is the only nominee. So you've seen the Obama people all leave. You've seen the strata of the top professional career people pushed out. You've seen no names offered. So you have a complete vacuum at the top of the State Department, beneath Sec. of State Tillerson. And the only people with any authority are the people who can claim to be acting on behalf of the President via their status on the 'beachhead.'"
"I think people seem to be underestimating what a federal government that seems to be more focused on enriching Donald Trump, his family, and his closest allies, could do to the lives of normal people," he explains, charging that the entire operation appears to be little more, at this point, than an attempt at "wrecking the country for financial gain."
Finally today, we close with one more story of a very popular (and right-leaning) town that supported Trump "bigly" last November, but now, perhaps, having second thoughts about what his immigration policies are doing to their own business interests...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)