Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The GOP agenda begins

And so the GOP agenda, confirmed at the polls last November, has begun.  While it is no surprise to me, I wonder if those who voted for our current President while also providing him with a GOP controlled Congress, were expecting some of the recent bills which were passed.  Of course, many of Trump's supporters won't be cognizant of the details of their voting, but will instead only know of those issues splashed across their favorite Fox news show or internet conspiracy website.  They will support the ban on refugees in general and Muslims in particular, even though that policy will inevitably do more harm than good.  They will support the firing of all those who might offer a balance of opinion, even though that results in a myopic view of the world and a reduced pool of solutions towards resolving our problems.  They will support the recent Supreme Court nominee, even though his far right agenda may tilt the court towards rulings that restrict individual rights rather than protecting us from the tyranny of the majority.  They will support a "wall" and a tariff on imported goods, even though the wall will result in more deficit spending and tariffs will produce higher prices for everyday Americans.

Voting along party lines, HJ Res 38 nullifies a federal rule aimed at protecting streams and drinking water in Appalachian states from pollution caused by mountain top removal coal mining.  I wonder if those who voted assuming Trump would bring back coal mining jobs also knew they were voting to allow coal companies to blast mountaintops and then dump fractured rocks and other debris into their streams and valleys.

Voting along party lines, HJ Res 41 nullifies an SEC rule under which publicly traded companies must disclose payments to foreign governments for access to oil, natural gas, coal and other mineral resources.  I wonder if those who voted assuming Trump would work for average Americans also knew they were voting to allow fossil fuel companies like Exxon, which coincidentally used to be run by our new Secretary of State, to secretly bribe foreign governments while possibly creating conflicts of interest for American businessmen who influence foreign policy.

Voting along party lines, HJ Res 40 nullifies an Obama administration rule designed to keep the mentally ill from passing federal background checks on gun purchases.  I wonder if those who voted for Trump in support of gun rights also knew they were voting to allow all Americans, regardless of mental stability to have access to a gun.  Makes all those gun rights advocates who frequently sight poor mental health services in America as the problem rather than guns, seem like hypocrites when they prefer arming those people while often also voting to cut community service funding which goes to mental health clinics.

Voting along party lines, HJ Res 37 nullifies federal regulation aimed a keeping federal contractors in compliance with workplace laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, Americans with Disability Act, Civil Rights Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, and Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  I wonder if those who voted for Trump to help create good paying jobs for Americans and knew they were voting for the removal of worker protections against employers who would discriminate in their hiring as well as place them in harm while performing their job, and subsequently, face fewer legal challenges when an employee was treated unfairly or hurt.  I guess they expected different from an ex-real estate developer?

Finally, voting along party lines, HJ Res 36 nullifies a regulation aimed at reducing losses of natural gas through venting, flaring and equipment leaks being mined on federal land.  I wonder if those who voted for Trump to reduce foreign dependence on oil by helping domestic oil and natural gas companies, also knew they were voting to allow those companies to spew waste into the air and water on land in our national parks and land designated as tribal.  Of course, abusing Native Americans is nothing new for our government, especially when profit comes into play so perhaps this is not a surprise, but to allow the possible ruination of land which is supposed to provide respite and recreation to all of us seems a bit short sighted, if not greedy.

Just so you know, the Senate voted in favor of these new laws as well.  In addition, the Senate voted to confirm Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, 56-43.  One could argue that travelling the world making business deals to buy oil for Exxon gives Tillerson ample international experience in making a profitable deal, but one might wonder how these experiences will help when he has to deal diplomatically with a nation which does not share our values or perspectives.  

Lastly, I wonder if those who support President Trump's philosophy of draining the swamp, understand any better that Trump, how important it is to have consistency in government in regards to those who do the actual, everyday work.  Of course, it is a new President's right to change the players at the top to reflect his beliefs.  But the backbone of how the federal government works are the career people at State, Defense, GAO and the other agencies who do the work.  Inflaming the belief that all government workers are lazy, overpaid, or any of the other disparaging remarks that Trumps' supporters throw at them, belies the facts that we need competent, patriotic people in these posts to make the system work.  Improving the functions and efficiency or government is one thing. Assuming it is not necessary, or actually detrimental is another, because in the end, someone will still be introducing and passing laws, and if we fail to pay attention to those laws or fail to understand the importance of the process, then we truly will get the government we deserve, as opposed to the one we elected.    

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