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HomeCharles KrauthammerThe Trump Cabinet: Bonfire Of The Agencies

The Trump Cabinet: Bonfire Of The Agencies

WASHINGTON — Democrats spent the first two decades of the post-Cold War era rather relaxed about Russian provocations and revanchism. President Obama famously mocked Mitt Romney in 2012 for suggesting that Russia was our principal geopolitical adversary. Yet today the Dems are in high dudgeon over the closeness of secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, to Vladimir Putin.

Hypocrisy aside, it is true that, as head of ExxonMobil, Tillerson made major deals with Russia, received Russia’s Order of Friendship and opposed U.S. sanctions. That’s troubling but not necessarily disqualifying. At the time, after all, Tillerson was acting as an agent of ExxonMobil, whose interest it is to extract oil and make money.

These interests do not necessarily overlap with those of the United States. The relevant question is whether and how Tillerson distinguishes between the two and whether as agent of the United States he would adopt a tougher Russia policy than he did as agent of ExxonMobil.

We don’t know. We shall soon find out. That’s what confirmation hearings are for.

The left has been in equally high dudgeon that other Cabinet picks appear not to share the mission of the agency which they have been nominated to head. The horror! As if these agency missions are somehow divinely ordained. Why, they aren’t even constitutionally ordained. The Education Department, for example, was created by President Carter in 1979 as a payoff to the teachers unions for their political support.

Now, teachers are wonderful. But teachers unions are there to protect benefits and privileges, not necessarily to improve schooling. Which is why they zealously defend tenure, protect their public-school monopoly and reflexively oppose school choice.

Conservatives have the odd view that the purpose of schooling — and therefore of the Education Department — is to provide students with the best possible education. Hence Trump’s nominee, Betsy DeVos, a longtime and passionate proponent of school choice, under whom the department will no longer be an arm of the teachers unions.

She is also less likely to allow the department’s Office for Civil Rights to continue appropriating to itself the role of arbiter of social justice, micromanaging everything from campus sexual mores to the proper bathroom assignment for transgender students. If the mission of this department has been to dictate policy best left to the states and localities, it’s about time the mission was changed.

The most incendiary nomination by far, however, is Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. As attorney general of Oklahoma, he has joined or led a series of lawsuits to curtail EPA power. And has been upheld more than once by the courts.

Pruitt has been deemed unfit to serve because he fails liberalism’s modern-day religious test: belief in anthropogenic climate change. They would love to turn his confirmation hearing into a Scopes monkey trial. Republicans should decline the invitation. It doesn’t matter whether the man believes the moon is made of green cheese. The challenges to EPA actions are based not on meteorology or theology, but on the Constitution. The issue is that the EPA has egregiously exceeded its authority and acted as a rogue agency unilaterally creating rules unmoored from legislation.

Pruitt’s is the most important nomination because it is a direct attack on the insidious growth of the administrative state. We have reached the point where EPA bureaucrats interpret the Waters of the United States rule — meant to protect American waterways — to mean that when a hard rain leaves behind a pond on your property, the feds may take over and tell you what you can and cannot do with it. (The final rule excluded puddles — magnanimity from the Leviathan.)

On a larger scale, Obama’s Clean Power Plan essentially federalizes power generation and regulation, not coincidentally killing coal along the way. This is the administration’s end run around Congress’ rejection of Obama’s proposed 2009-2010 cap-and-trade legislation. And that was a Democratic Congress, mind you.

Pruitt’s nomination is a dramatic test of the proposition that agencies administer the law, they don’t create it. That the legislative power resides exclusively with Congress and not with a metastasizing administrative bureaucracy.

For some, this reassertion of basic constitutionalism seems extreme. If so, the Obama administration has only itself to blame. Such are the wages of eight years of liberal overreach. Some legislation, like Obamacare, will be repealed. Some executive orders will be canceled. But most important will be the bonfire of the agencies. We may soon be secure not just in our puddles but our ponds.

© 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer writes a weekly political column that runs on Fridays. He is also a Fox News commentator and appears nightly on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
  • Carol Babbitt

    Charles Krauthammer is right on. I only wish the liberals, “progressives” would read his columns. Maybe they would “get it”. Then maybe not. They are so full of emotions, that they cannot think.

  • CrustyOldGeezer

    I think Trump should have a scorched earth policy towards the politically created positions.
    8 years of TRUMP, 8 Years of PENCE, and another 16 years of their Conservative Successors should leave the nation in pretty good shape.

    • Jarhead

      Provided that the current CROOKS in the FED/GOV Agencies guilt of felonies are still in prison 16 years from now?

      • CrustyOldGeezer

        When the federal government are no longer in everybodies day to day lives, lower taxes and plenty of jobs.

        The Constitution is TAUGHT by REAL TEACHERS instead of union drones, the 2nd Amendment is no longer demonized and more people are packing everyday causing the criminals to sleaze their way back into the shadows….

        Fewer regulations and restrictions on new businesses hundreds of thousands of small companies.
        More jobs than people to fill them restores the free market to the labor market.

        The People won’t vote to screw that up.

        • maxx

          The rules governing the US job market should be “American citizens first”, legal immigrants with appropriate credentials second. That’s it. This means everybody not within those two categories MUST leave the country. No welfare benefits for anybody outside those two categories, PERIOD. Foreign students leave the country immediately after graduation unless they apply for citizenship at which point they go to the end of the line.

          • CrustyOldGeezer

            “legal immigrants” are not entitled to welfare of any type.

            They are required to be fully employed or have a marketable skill and a sponsor BEFORE they immigrate.

          • Dale g

            Yes. When my great-grandfather and his brother came to the US the application for entrance had a question about the skills they were offering so as not to become a burden to their State of Residence. I have copies of the documents.

          • CrustyOldGeezer

            I like it when Families are proud of their heritage.

            It keeps a sense of Pride down through the generations.

          • lilolady

            Check out the benefits given each family of 18 people immigrating “legally” and ask yourself what the heck was in the idiot’s mind who conceived that and put it into law with the full approval of the US Congress.

          • CrustyOldGeezer

            ‘Tis easy enough to lay it at the feet of both political parties and the last 4 ‘presidents’ that refused to ENFORCE THE LAWS.

          • lilolady

            The law of Chain Immigration is being enforced up the yazoo! And I know what Congress passed is not Constitutional Law. I like the way you think, what do you think can be done about this?

          • CrustyOldGeezer

            DRAIN THE SWAMP!

          • Glatik

            You re right. I am a LEGAL immigrant. After a thorough vetting I got my visa to enter the U.S. Had a sponsor. First 5 years no public assistance (never took a penny anyway from Federal nor State). Every year had to fill out forms at Post Office so they would know where to find me.

            Everything I have I earned by working hard and obeying the laws. I love this country and it is painful to see for the legal immigrants how ILLEGALS are pampered and have the nerve to make demands.

          • CrustyOldGeezer

            WELCOME TO AMERICA My Friend!

            I hope you have a long and prosperous life here and I pray that we are able to keep the Republic intact for all f your descendants to enjoy as well.
            America needs People like you that understand and appreciate the quality of Life in a FREE Nation.

          • Glatik

            Thank you Crusty Old Geezer, my hard work paid off, I have a comfortable life now and I am a proud American who never took a handout.c

          • CrustyOldGeezer

            To not recognize the hard work and years of effort would be a bit unseemly wouldn’t it?

            MERRY CHRISTMAS and I wish for you the best of everything in the coming year.

          • Glatik

            Crusty old Geezer, MERRY CHRISTMAS and very best wishes for a wonderful 2017. We do have hope again.

      • maxx

        We need a new effort to root out and remove corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. All of their crimes against the American people should be considered acts of treason since they have a contract with the people “in trust during good behavior” just as every employee within the private sector has with their employer. When that trust is broken based on bad behavior determined by the employer, the employee can be terminated immediately. The employer of politicians and bureaucrats being “we the people” have every right to determine if said employee is functioning within the parameters of “good behavior” and no court on any level has the authority to interfere. Good behavior is determined by the employer and not by a court of law.

        • CrustyOldGeezer

          I think that is the idea behind “Drain the Swamp”.

        • Jerryb53

          I’d like to see the elimination of The Board of Ed, IRS, DHS, EPA, DTA, TSA, and all the other Government Agencies that our Constitution protects us from. Just get rid of them Forget weeding out the corruption. These Agencies are un constitutional and they need to be shut down. The Federal Government exist for one thing. To protect our Country from enemies both foreign and domestic. Folks our government is our enemy. It’s time we heed the words of Thomas Jefferson from the DOI. Regarding a Tyrannical government. Please answer yes or no if you think we have a Tyrannical government.

          “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

          “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government” Thomas Jefferson.

  • scruffyleon

    Trump’s plan is to reduce the size of the Government and give back to the States their constitutionaly given pwers.
    Oddly, the NeverTrumpers refused to see it. They have voted themselves to a 3rd party status now.

  • jabusse

    what is all this about a tougher russian policy/. Hell, they don’t threaten us in the least. Not even that much. The EU just used them to extract money from us. You folks are fighting a war Reagan won 30 years ago.

  • Tim Kern

    Let’s hope you’re right, Dr. K!
    More government hasn’t been the solution, and it’s unlikely to become the solution.
    The Constitution has always been the solution; too bad it’s been ignored by so many, for so long.

    • maxx

      And reinstate the ban and penalties for “desecrating the flag”. No other nation on the globe allows people to do to their flag what the U.S.allows in the name of freedom. Freedom is one thing, desecrating the flag is spitting on the grave of every man and woman that died protecting that flag. If you do that you do not deserve to walk free.

      • Danglen

        When you protect the symbol more than the freedom it represents, the symbol; becomes meaningless. Soldiers didn’t/don’t die protecting the flag, they die protecting the freedom it represents. I think it’s a credit to America that other nations are too weak to allow their flag to be burned. God bless America. May we always have the freedom to wave the flag and to burn it.

        • Adam Brandes

          “When you protect the symbol”, Danglen, when you celebrate it, it becomes more respected and the ideas it represents get more of emotional connection to you. We, and all other nations have the freedom to wave their official flags but we alone have the freedom to express hostility to everything our flag represents. However, we are admonished and shamed if we express hostility to the burners. Why is that, Danglen?

          • Danglen

            To be clear I don’t think burning the flag accomplishes much for the burner except giving them their 15 minutes of fame/shame. To me conservatives should support people expressing their freedoms even if they disagree with the method used to express that freedom. Of course this doesn’t include physically hurting others.
            Just as you are admonished and shamed for expressing hostility to the burner you have don the same by shaming and admonishing the burner. (All 3 parties, burner, burner’s admonisher, and admonisher of the admonisher get to freely express their views.
            Although it may be seen that way most flag burners are not expressing hostility to everything the flag represents but to one or two things that have deeply affected them.
            An example would be during the Vietnam war many people burnt the flag not because of their hatred of America but their hatred of the war. I disagreed with the war also because we had no clear objective elyto win. As a side note I did not burn our flag.
            Ultimately I feel we all have a right to express our political and religious views while understanding that there will be some, maybe even the majority, who disagree with our views.
            God bless America, may be always have the freedom to wave our flag and to burn our flag.

          • Adam Brandes

            You seem to sincerely believe that by burning the American flag these people protest some action, some idea, maybe a politician but, God forbid, not America! Well, this has been, and remains, the traditional propaganda line of the Left.
            Is it BS, of course. If you want to signal your position against the Vietnam War, you make a speech, demonstrate with a sign, etc, but the American flag is the symbol, sort of a trademark, of everything the US of A stands for.
            Burning it you protest everything the US of A stands for, (do you understand the distinction?) not a particular idea or a certain action.
            I am suspect people who consider burning the flag the right thing to do are sympathetic with the terrorists too.

          • Danglen

            I clearly think there are those who burn the flag that are protesting America. As I said before I don’t think burning the flag accomplishes much except giving the burner their 15 minutes of fame/shame. You’re correct, in my opinion, there are far better ways to demonstrate. I never stated that burning the flag was the right thing to do just that an individual should have the right to.
            As you state, the flag is a symbol but it is just a symbol and when the symbol is protected more than the freedoms it stands for the symbol becomes meaningless.
            As far as sympathizing with terrorists. One nation’s terrorists CAn BE (not always) another nation’s freedom fighters i.e. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and everyone who took up arms against the tyranny of King George. All these men would have been considered terrorists (if the word had existed at the time) by Britain. On the other hand, the muslim terrorists who killing, raping, and mutilating men, women, and children around the world get no sympathy from me. The progressives who turn a blind eye to these atrocities are, in my opinion, just about as despicable.
            I feel the U.S. has taken away enough of the freedoms these men (GW, TJ, SA and many others since) who fought and died for those freedoms.
            If you look at the Founding Fathers original intent, the Supreme Court’s formation, it was to limit the federal government intrusion into the rights of men and states. They have failed in this regard in too many areas. A prime example would be Obamacare.
            I humbly suggest you get a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and read them carefully. If you have already done so, congratulations, most Americans haven’t. Read them again and see what truly remarkable documents they are. Perhaps then you will better understand my position that the freedom to burn the flag is far more important then the flag itself.

  • rich wojcik

    The disaster called obamacare has to be repealed! A little example if its madness: Medicare’s emergency room: $75, but

    obamacare’s emergency room: $1,000.00. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

    A total insanity, mr. Hussein et al.

    • Jeanne Stotler

      It’s Medicaid’s ER, I get what Medicare is charged, and it’s close to $1,000, All charges to Medicare have risen as 80% is paid by Medicare, but after they tell medical provider the amount that. they approve, then the 20% left is billed to patient OR a supplement policy. Over the last 8 years I’ve seen almost a doubling of charges and premiums, the COLA we suppose to have gotten during the 8 years is a joke as it is always less than the Part B and D increases.

  • Moki

    Well said.

  • Jarhead

    Over-reach with NO over-sight has increased the corruption/fraud/thief/uselessness of several FED/GOV Agencies…….i.e.,: VA, IRS, DHS, EPA, BLM, DOEd. to name but a few.

  • WBC

    Well…for the first time in a long time, I fully concur with Mr. Krauthammer. He has, at least for this column, come back into the conservative Constitutional fold. Congratulations, Mr. Krauthammer.

    • maxx

      Hold your applause, one article in concert with your opinion does not make a conservative out of Dr. Chuck. I suspect he is just reacting to the massive amount of criticism he has been getting.

    • Jerryb53

      I agree WBC. Charles has been going off the deep end lately. This sounds like the old Charles.

  • maxx

    There isn’t a single member in the Alphabet Agency list that should be exempt from major investigation of it’s worthiness to exist. All of these agencies, EPA, DofED, HSI, DOE, FDA, IRS, DOC and on and on were created by Congress without the approval or even consideration of the public. Congress has very little work to actually perform. They illegally created all of these agencies, staffed by unelected bureaucrats to do the work they are responsible to do. They have abdicated their authority to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats so they can spend their time making believe they are our representatives. Time to abolish most of them and make the Congress actually earn it’s pay. If they don’t like it then resign. By the way….”YOU WON’T BE MISSED”.

    • Jerryb53

      Time to build a bonfire in DC and use the Congressmen as wood.

    • Jarhead

      They will be missed….since Income Taxes will go DOWN and our prison population will go up!

  • My Rant

    The current uproar about Russia hacking the DNC does everything but blame Trump for providing the keys to the DNC computers. Where is the uproar that the administration and the DNC want to have any and all my personal info (such as medical records, IRS and SS records) on the government computers, to be shared between all federal agencies. Yet they, the DNC, Hillary and the Pentagon cannot protect themselves from a foreign power hacking. Why is media not in an uproar about the incompetance of those that guarantee our information is safe and protected and our personal privacy is secure.

  • Dale g

    Finally, for the first time in a looong time,a Krauthammer column that makes sense. About time!

  • FloridaJim

    Charles we are depending on you to listen to and watch Obama repeat endlessly his legacy treatise he has begun . Over and over he will tell us how great he was and point by point you refute it or agree with it facts have never bothered and Democratic President they all are wonderful read their biographies.Obama neglects to talk about the $880,000,000,000 wasted on the Stimulus Plan and then mocked with Jeff Immelt about the not-so-shovel-ready jobs, some joke for them our savings for us. The unemployment neglects to say we have 94,000,000 people not looking for work and living off you and I, Charles.We have more people on welfare or some form of sharing my tax dollars than ever in history. Iran was given $1,700,000,000,000 to accept Obama and Kerry’s Nuclear Deal and Obama lied from the beginning to the end and still does. Charles you have more followers than I so straighten Obama and us out, please.When Obama stops spewing lies you have done your job.


  • Tom Mize

    Dr. Krauthammer,
    I you are unaware of the circumstances surrounding the closeness of Mr. Tillerson and Russia, please investigate and report. You may find that integrity has meaning in other countries.