The Absurdity Of Trump’s ‘2-For-1’ Deregulation Order, Explained

It probably won’t result in bureaucratic chaos—but you should pay attention to a little-known bill that just passed

President Donald Trump signs an executive order.

On Monday, while most of the world was still reeling from the chaos ignited by the travel ban, President Donald Trump signed yet another executive order, this one aimed at handcuffing administrative agencies from issuing new regulations. The order calls for agencies to essentially revoke two regulations for every new one that is implemented. “So if there’s a new regulation, they have to knock out two,” Trump said, following through on a promise Trump made after the election, when he said on YouTube, “I will formulate a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.”

Through this “one in, two out” order, Trump wants to make it harder for agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to issue rules that could, for instance, protect public health or mandate levels of energy efficiency in appliances. Likewise for consumer protections, workplace safety, housing discrimination, oversight of big banks, voter rights, and the majority of public protections developed by executive branch agencies, which are typically charged to do so by some law passed by Congress.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]The president cannot repeal statutes. You’d have to go through Congress.[/quote]

“If you have a regulation you want, number one, we’re not gonna approve it because it’s already been approved probably in 17 different forms,” Trump said. “But if we do, the only way you have a chance is we have to knock out two regulations for every new regulation.

But before you start worrying that that the order puts us on a path to rampant deregulation, where industries and companies are free to do whatever the hell they please with no oversight or restriction, legal experts quickly threw some cold water on the president’s directive, which has been alternately described as “absurd,” “not legitimate,” and “mindless” by public officials and the press.

Jody Freeman, a law professor at Harvard University, called the “2-for-1” policy “arbitrary, not implementable, and a terrible idea,” adding that “the order is vague in many respects,” and that it tasks the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to sort out the details of how it will be implemented. Trump’s lawyers also felt compelled, more than once, to include the condition that it will be implemented “to the extent permitted by law.” Meaning that agency regulations that were developed and issued to satisfy a statute from Congress couldn’t be either blocked or “knocked out.”

More from Freeman:

A president can’t order his executive agencies to disobey the law in any event, and if the agencies try to disobey statutes, they will be called to account by affected parties who will file lawsuits challenging their unlawful actions.

Talking to Quartz, Gregory Wawro, a political science professor at Columbia University, echoed this sentiment. “The president cannot repeal statutes. If the law gives agencies authority to make regulations, in order to remove that authority, then you have to pass a new statute revoking that authority. You’d have to go through Congress.”

The order itself acknowledges this, though you wouldn’t know it from Trump’s rhetoric.

Even if the order did have legal teeth, implementing it would be confounding, and—contrary to its stated goals—almost certainly wind up costing the public more money. Freeman explained using this hypothetical:

If an agency wants to issue a rule that is expected to have $1 million in regulatory costs, but is expected to have benefits of $1 billion (1,000 times as much), the agency could not issue that regulation unless it agrees to get rid of at least two regulations with at least $1 million in total cost. The net benefits (benefits minus costs) of the rule being issued or the rules being eliminated do not matter. And, because OMB’s annual reports show that virtually all rules issued in the past 10-15 years have greater benefits than costs (except for a few that were specifically required by Congress), eliminating an existing rule will likely reduce net benefits.

Sure seems like a good thing this order carries no legal weight, right? Alas, Congress is already working on its own “pass-and-repeal” law. Trump’s “2-for-1” order shares some striking similarities to a provision in the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act of 2017, which passed in the House on January 5. The bill includes an amendment, introduced by Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, which aligns smoothly with Trump’s order.

Steve Horn at DeSmog (where, full disclosure, I also write) noticed that the amendment, which states that for every federal regulation created, another must be amended or retired, is a direct “clone” of the SCRUB (Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome) Act, “a bill lobbied for by America's Natural Gas Alliance, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” among others. Horn’s investigation found that the REINS Act, and the SCRUB Act before it, were pushed for heavily by—and very possibly drawn up by—Koch Industries and think tanks funded by the Koch brothers and their political networks. As it happens, the Koch-funded political advocacy organization FreedomWorks was quick to “applaud” the passage of the REINS Act in the House, posting this information about the bill on their website before it had even been voted on.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]If the REINS Act survives the Senate, the heart of Trump’s directive would still be arbitrary, impossible to implement, and costly. But it would also be law.[/quote]

(Besides the “pass one, repeal one” provision, there are other frightening aspects of the REINS Act as passed, but those are for another time. For a quick summary, check out Natural Resources Defense Council’s David Goldston, a former Republican congressional staffer who has been speaking out against the REINS Act since it was first introduced to the House in 2011.)

The REINS Act is currently sitting in the Senate, where it’s been stuck in committee waiting for deliberation and a vote. Trump’s “2-for-1” executive order might be arbitrary, impossible to implement, costly, and ultimately toothless from a legal standpoint. But if Messer’s amendment and the REINS Act survive the Senate, the heart of Trump’s directive would still be arbitrary, impossible to implement, and costly—but it would also be law.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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