Even before Trump’s January 2018 State of the Union Address, his administration had waded into the swamp and begun the cleanup process, fully embracing 64 percent of the agenda items proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation for changing the way Washington works.
Pulling America out of the Paris Agreement on climate change turned out to be a major public relations victory for the president, sending a warning salvo across the bow of Washington, D.C.’s entrenched climate-change lobby and earning plaudits from his anti-globalist base.
Ending Obama-era regulations on net neutrality was another.
Then proposing and passing a once-in-a-generation tax reform package—over the objections of legislators from both parties—was an important sequel leading to, contrary to some media warnings, higher take-home pay and bonuses for American workers.
Using the provisions of the Congressional Review Act, the administration worked with Congress to eliminate 14 regulations adopted in the waning days of the Obama administration. The president made it clear he intended to wage war on over regulation and began by lifting Obama’s moratorium on coal leases on federal lands. He then instructed all executive branch agencies to review all new rules, with the goal of eliminating two regulations for every new one. By year’s end, the administration had withdrawn, delayed or made inactive 1500 proposed regulations, saving more than $8 billion in lifetime net regulatory costs, with the promise of increasing savings to $9.8 billion with regulatory cost-cutting in 2018.
Another priority of President Trump’s agenda is the nomination and confirmation of conservative constitutional judges, perhaps best illustrated by the appointments of Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. Trump also appointed and gained confirmation for 12 circuit court of appeals judges before the end of his first year in office. This was the largest number of appellate judges confirmed during the first year of any American president. However, the challenge would become more complicated the following year, as more than 90 of the president’s appointments were blocked in the Senate.
Nominating and confirming strict constitutionals to the federal bench, as the Trump team has repeatedly pointed out, is an important step in reducing bureaucratic entanglements since most federal cases are settled at the appellate level. As many as 8,000 cases are filed before the Supreme Court each year, which is far more than any court can consider. Plenary review with oral arguments by attorneys for both sides is granted in about 80 cases each term, and as many as 100 cases may be disposed of without plenary review. Only one of every 700 cases heard by the appellate courts will find its way to the Supreme Court, so reducing the number of activist judges, eliminating needless bureaucracy and resolving disputes at the earliest possible level is a victory for the rule of law.
And by God’s grace, we will see an increase in this kind of victory in the Supreme Court. I encourage you to read more about this topic in Steve Strang’s Trump Aftershock.