I've been keeping tabs on the many ways that Donald Trump is making America great again.
We're all keenly aware of what he claims is making the country great — his primary example being the massive corporate tax cut that will add a cool trillion dollars to the country's already burgeoning debt. And, as we know, he takes credit for the economy, job growth and unemployment, all economic indicators that are virtually the same as they were during the eight years of the Obama administration, a fact Trump refuses to admit.
Add to that Trump's insistence that his rollback of regulations has also fueled this "historic" economic growth he has single-handedly brought us, in his mind validating his baseball cap slogan, "Make America Great Again."
Let's take a quick look at how his destruction of just a few Obama initiatives is adding to the country's greatness.
The most appalling, of course, is Trump's overturning of Obama regulations to make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. The "let's make America great again" cabal was strangely silent about this following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month.
How about the tip-sharing plan? Obama's policy was to forbid restaurant owners from requiring their wait staff to hand over to management their tips that totaled more than the minimum wage, so management could dole the tips out as it saw fit. The problem was that in many cases management itself took a slice to pad the company's bottom line. Trump, the great protector of the working people, has suspended Obama's policy, meaning that tens of thousands of waiters and waitresses are about to see their wages drop.
There's the Trump administration's stacking of the National Labor Relations Board to turn the body that's supposed to arbitrate disputes between management and labor and make sure there's fairness in negotiations into a shill for management. Among the first casualties is a ruling that grad students at universities could bargain for wages and benefits. Trump's people are making sure that won't happen, again striking a blow to low-paid workers.
The new NLRB, meanwhile, has overturned several decisions made during the Obama presidency, including voiding union contracts won by smaller units in a company. After 100 welders unionized at a manufacturing plant that employed 2,500, the Trump-appointed board found it illegitimate and declared the union would have to organize all 120 job classifications, a huge and undoubtedly insurmountable hurdle. Denying workers union membership is apparently great for America.
Concerned by a rash of train accidents in recent years, the National Transportation Safety Board determined in some instances where trains failed to slow down around corners the suspected culprit was the malady known as sleep apnea. So it proposed that engineers be tested for the condition. For some reason, the make America great again people didn't think this was a good idea and suspended the proposed rule. The NTSB is mystified.
Then there was suspension of the rules to reduce toxins from the exhaust of big truck tractors that were shown to be contributing to asthma and lung cancer. The make America great again crew exempted engines rebuilt by a Tennessee firm that woefully failed the exhaust tests. Surely, Americans are much better off with that Trump grandstanding.
Last year millions of American consumers saw their most intimate financial information compromised by a data breach at the credit rating service Equifax. The Obama administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched a full-scale probe of how Equifax failed to protect the data of unwitting consumers. After Obama appointee Richard Cordray resigned a few months ago as director of the agency, Trump's interim director, right-wing former congressman Mick Mulvaney, decided to pull back from the investigation. Apparently, unaccountable credit rating agencies that help expose consumers to financial peril help America's greatness.
And here's a humdinger from the Ryan Zinke-led Interior Department. Zinke, who wants to make the country great again by sinking oil wells along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, the Gulf of Mexico and the wilderness areas of Alaska, has rolled back a 100-year law protecting migratory birds. The law provides penalties for killing the birds, but Zinke thinks that those who kill them "unintentionally," like oil giants that spill tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, should be exempt. Up until now, the law provided an incentive for companies to work with the Interior Department to protect migratory birds. To Zinke, that's an onerous rule for businesses.
Now, for sure, that will make America great again.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
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