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Trump's Deregulation Frenzy Isn't Trumpism, It's Republicanism

Any other Republican president would've waged the same war on clean air he'll launch Monday

"The rest of the story is a sorry tale of the revolving door between industry lobbyists and the institutions that are supposed to keep the rest of us safe from industry excesses." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"The rest of the story is a sorry tale of the revolving door between industry lobbyists and the institutions that are supposed to keep the rest of us safe from industry excesses." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In keeping with our theme of Monday morning, we note that, on Tuesday, the administration* plans to implement more of its Child Asthma and Planetary Extinction Program Plan by rolling back a whole host of clean-air regulations. The point man on this is a cat named William Wehrum, who has been working this beat for years now, as The New York Times explains to us.

Now, Mr. Wehrum is about to deliver one of the biggest victories yet for his industry clients — this time from inside the Trump administration as the government’s top air pollution official. On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to propose a vast rollback of regulations on emissions from coal plants, including many owned by members of a coal-burning trade association that had retained Mr. Wehrum and his firm as recently as last year to push for the changes. The proposal strikes at the heart of climate-change regulations adopted by the Obama administration to force change among polluting industries, and follows the relaxation of separate rules governing when power plants must upgrade air pollution equipment. Mr. Wehrum, who has led the E.P.A.’s clean air office since November, also helped deliver the changes in several of those rules.

The rest of the story is a sorry tale of the revolving door between industry lobbyists and the institutions that are supposed to keep the rest of us safe from industry excesses. (Wehrum is benefitting from a loophole in federal ethics rules.)

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But there is a parallel story to the one that the Times is telling here, and it goes once again to a proposition that too many people are trying studiously to ignore—that, at least on the most basic public policy levels, there is no such thing as Trumpism. What we have is pure Republicanism of the sort that came into vogue the moment Ronald Reagan's hand came off the Bible in 1981. This kind of industry-coddling, to-hell-with-clean-air-and-water deregulatory frenzy has been Republican gospel ever since Reagan put the likes of James Watt and Anne Gorsuch in charge of it.

There is not a single domestic policy issue undertaken by this administration that would not have ensued had any of the other 2016 Republican presidential contenders been elected.
There is not a single domestic policy issue undertaken by this administration that would not have ensued had any of the other 2016 Republican presidential contenders been elected. Their purposes and priorities would have been absolutely identical. William Wehrum would have been hired do the same job he's been doing by President Ted Cruz or President Scott Walker. President John Kasich might have hired someone whose conflicts of interest were a little less obvious, but the goal would have been the same. President Marco Rubio would have been tweeting out Bible verses rather than insane conspiracy theories, but Wehrum, or someone like him, would have been doing the coal industry's bidding with administration approval.

Every one of the Never Trump Republicans and/or conservatives you have been watching on the electric teevee would have been on board with the destruction of "crippling regulations" had it been undertaken by a less comically dangerous demagogue. They all worked for a party that has made deregulated capitalism a cornerstone of its public policy for at least four decades, and they were quite happy to do so, until El Caudillo Del Mar-A-Lago came along to bellow the party's interior monologue out loud. This is going to be something worth remembering if and when this nightmare ever ends.

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Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce is a writer-at-large for Esquire and his work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the LA Times Magazine, the Nation, the Atlantic, Sports Illustrated and The Chicago Tribune, among others.

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