by Robert Reich
Announcement: Donald Trump is
no longer the president of the United States.
sure, he has the title and he has the bully pulpit – from which he’s
everyone from NBA players to people protesting white supremacists to
he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening
– in Congress, the courts, the Fed, the career civil service,
lobbyists, and in
the states. Or it’s not happening at all.
not just that Trump lost the epic battle to repeal and replace the
Care Act. Trump never understood the Affordable Care Act to begin with,
played no part in developing Republican alternatives.
budget Trump submitted to Congress in March was dead on arrival. House
Republicans ignored Trump’s request for $54 billion in cuts to
agencies and decided instead to cut non-defense spending by just $5
and explode the defense budget.
9-page tax plan congressional Republicans and Trump unveiled last week
vaguely resembles Trump’s original tax proposal from April, and all the
important decisions have been left to the tax-writing committees of
Trump's strained relations,
challenges in the courts
relations with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker
Ryan have become so strained they have no interest in looping him into
before they have to.
Trump has run out of Obama executive orders he can declare void. Major
regulations, such as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, can’t just be
have to go through a legal process that could take years.
doesn’t seem to be aware of this. He told a cheering crowd in Alabama
that he had ended the Clean Power Plan by executive order. “Did you see
did to that? Boom, gone.”
The EPA will soon reveal its strategy for reversing the Plan, but
is, environmental groups are almost certain to appeal it in the courts.
businesses and utilities, fearing that the courts may rule against the
administration, are lobbying the EPA to come up with a replacement
try to eliminate the Plan altogether.
General John Kelly has reduced White House chaos somewhat, the firings
shakeups are unremitting.
Clueless cabinet secretaries, top
agency jobs left vacant
Cabinet secretaries don’t seem to have a clue. Education Secretary
still wants to spend taxpayer money on for-profit schools and colleges
cheat their students. Won’t happen. The EPA’s Scott Pruitt is trying to
the agency of scientists. Another brainless scheme.
Secretary Steve Mnuchin still has no idea how to deal with Congress. He
to persuade Republican House members to support Trump’s budget deal
Democrats by asking them to do it “for me.”
and Human Service Secretary Tom Price wasn’t fired for his ethical
ethics were the criteria, most of the Trump administration would be
broke Trump’s cardinal rule, which was never to get bad headlines for
echelons of departments and agencies are still empty. Trump has said “in
many cases, we don’t want to fill those jobs,” which means
being made by career civil servants and industry lobbyists.
the start of September, more than a third of the leadership positions
Federal Emergency Management Agency were still vacant. Not a good way
hurricane season. Puerto Rico, anyone?
of mid-September, out of 599 key government positions that require
confirmation, Trump had made only 159 nominations, according
to The Washington Post. Trump had
yet to submit nominations
for 320 positions.
political clout is waning among Republicans. He couldn’t even get his
elected to a Senate primary in Alabama, a state bulging with Trump
leaders have deserted him over his remarks over Charlottesville. NFL
have turned on him over his remarks about players. Tom Brady, who once
Trump “a good friend,” now calls him “divisive” and “wrong.”
get me wrong. Trump is still a dangerous showman and conman – tweeting
condemnations of critics and ranting before friendly crowds at his
campaign rallies. He continues to fuel bigotry and meanness. He has
America’s standing in the world. His outbursts could start a nuclear
when it comes to the actual work of governing America, Trump is
utterly and completely irrelevant.
ROBERT B. REICH is
the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of
Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing
He served as
secretary of labor in the Clinton administration and Time magazine
one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century.
Mr. Reich has
written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The
Nations, Beyond Outrage and most recently Saving
He is also a
founding editor of The American Prospect magazine,
chairman of Common
Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and
the award-winning documentary INEQUALITY FOR ALL.