Day 5, a mere 1,457 days to go
Yesterday Donald Trump banned funding for clinics overseas if they mention abortion to patients, and today he approved resumption of work on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The former is going to be applauded by a major Republican voter-bloc, the Pro Life movement. Given that Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, I suppose Trump can see the sizable minority of Americans who opposed abortion in all or nearly all instances as having been “forgotten” in some meaningful sense, even though at the state level they have had a great deal of success in limiting actual access to abortion for women in much of the country.
But the pipelines are blatant giveaways to the oil industry, one of the largest lobbying blocs in Washington. There is no other way to see them if you know anything about the projects. They will not create very many jobs. They will mean more profits for the oil industry, not significantly lower prices at the gas pump. They pose a serious and quite real danger to the environment in the long-term, and could also lead to short-term disaster given the water supplies they run through and the tendency of these companies to accidentally have large oil spills.
Trump’s behavior will always be, shall we say, unusual, in part because he wants to talk about himself 24/7. But on the policy front he is going to agree to almost everything the Republican leadership in Congress wants, and that leadership is vastly more conservative than it was thirty years ago. Ryan and Pence are very far to the right of where Ronald Reagan governed in the 1980s, though they pretend otherwise to seem reasonable. McConnell, on the other hand, just wants to stay in power, he doesn’t seem to actually believe anything. If aliens are considering taking over, McConnell would rule under them in whatever way they asked. Trump might too, as long as you renamed the planet after him.
By and large he will give the right wing ruling Congress what they want while claiming he is changing the culture, and when he does things that are not standard right-wing talking points of today, they will generally be standard right-wing talking points from a century or so back. (“We should have taken the oil in Iraq” being a good example.) And Congress will in turn let him do most of the crazier things he wants without serious objection as long as he agrees to huge tax cuts for the wealthy, protecting the oil industry and mocking global warming (a big check-off on that today!), very, very conservative judges, and their other goals. Medicare and Social Security are in serious danger, despite the vast majority of Americans supporting both programs. Trump appointed very conservative billionaires to his Cabinet, and now he is bowing down to the oil industry. Today the swamp got wetter.