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Politics

EPA Head Pruitt Has United Conservative Support

April 8, 2018 by Dan Kazan in Politics

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

Despite ethic scandals associated with EPA chief Scott Pruitt, ten groups representing conservative interests sent a letter to President Trump urging him to stand behind his cabinet secretary.

The group brought a letter to the White House last week extolling the virtues of Secretary Pruitt, saying it is the first time such an organized effort has come together to support a Trump Cabinet official. The letter praises Pruitt and thanks the President for supporting him even though it might be difficult politically due to Pruitt’s questionable behaviors which are continuing to come to light.

“The days of a rogue, agenda driven EPA are over,” the letter stated. “Scott Pruitt is a bold, capable manager and is right for this job. His record shows you made the right choice picking him. We are certain he will guide EPA through the coming years of your Administration as a courageous and qualified administrator.”

One of the signatories is Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots Citizen Fund, who stated:

“Pruitt is delivering on policy changes that conservatives have wanted to see for years, if not decades,” Martin said. “There’s not a single member of the cabinet who has managed to deliver regulation rollbacks as much as Scott Pruitt has.”

She also said that she hasn’t seen any behavior on Pruitt’s part that should require his dismissal.

This is the conservative movement coming forward and saying this guy is rock star,” said another signatory. “I have not seen a more united conservative front on behalf of a Cabinet member since the Reagan administration.”

Pruitt has been under fire for months for several unethical moves he made while head of the EPA. He is accused of outrageous spending on security and travel, plus he is being investigated by the EPA inspector general for several questionable activities.

More recently news of his renting of a $50-a-night condo from a lobbyist couple caused a stir among his detractors, while more scandals keep bubbling up to the surface of what is looking like a pretty deep swamp. He is accused of firing aides who questioned him about the money he was spending on security and travel, including asking for sirens and lights so he can speed-up his drives around DC.

Pruitt is also under investigation for his travel using taxpayer money, use of a special hiring authority, and spending on a soundproof phone booth for exclusive use in his office.

Observers have been predicting an imminent dismissal of the EPA head by chief of staff John Kelly, but President Trump has tweeted his support of the embattled secretary. The President told journalists on Air Force One last week that:

“I think he’s done a fantastic job. I think he’s done an incredible job. He’s been very courageous. It hasn’t been easy, but I think he’s done a fantastic job.”

Military Parade Scheduled for Veteran’s Day

March 12, 2018 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Saint-Cyriens le 14 juillet 2007 sur les Champs élysées à Paris. Un lieutenant a des soucis avec son sabre (devant l’arrêt de bus). Photo courtesy of Adrien Marquette.

A memo released last week by the Pentagon announced that there will be a military parade taking place this coming Veteran’s Day, on November 11, 2018. The parade was requested by President Donald Trump but will not put on display some of the largest military hardware which the president had hoped to see.

The parade will include soldiers from the different defense branches and will focus on the expanding role of women serving. US air power will also be highlighted with examples of modern and historic war planes included in the ceremony. Many veterans’ groups will join, including the ceremonial Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.

To protect “local infrastructure” the parade will not have tanks rolling down the road between the White House and the Capital.

“This parade will focus on the contributions of our veterans throughout the history of the U.S. military, starting from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 to today, with an emphasis on the price of freedom,” added the office of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in a guidance to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Trump was inspired to have a military parade in the US after he enjoyed the Bastille Day celebration on his recent visit to France. Trump’s idea was first met with skepticism by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Congressmen and senators from both parties were upset that such a display of force feels and looks like the behavior of authoritarian regimes.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney estimates the cost of the parade could reach $30 million.

Trump Economic Advisor Cohn Considering Exit Over Tariff Issue

March 4, 2018 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Gary Cohn, senior economic advisor to President Donald Trump, could be leaving his position as director of the National

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn | 7/25/17 (Official White House Photo by Evan Walker)

Economic Council in response to the president’s imposition of high tariffs on steel and aluminum announced last week by Trump.

This is not the first time Cohn’s continuation as economic advisor to Trump has come into question. The first time Cohn seriously considered stepping down from his position was after Trump’s comments about White Supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia after a march there ended in violence. Cohn had written several versions of resignation letters after Trump appeared to praise the racists while criticizing the protesters against them. In the end Cohn did not send his resignation to the president. Cohn was instrumental in getting Trump’s big tax cut bill passed last year.

Now however, despite Cohn’s heroic efforts to dissuade Trump from imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, he could not change Trump’s mind, and might not be willing to take this last, deep insult. This new blow might just be the last straw for Cohn. Allies of Cohn began to think he would finally leave after the stock market fell 500 points in response to Trump’s announcement.

The imposition on tariffs is a violation of one of Cohn’s core beliefs about economic prosperity and growth: that protectionism is economically backward and does not lead to increased prosperity.

“It’s just something he feels very passionate about and he is incredibly good at making the case,” said someone close to Cohn. However, this person is not certain this will be the decision that forces Cohn out.

Cohn is not alone in his disapproval of tariffs. Larry Kudlow, and outside advisor who is frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Cohn, was critical of the president’s announcement.

“All that will happen with steel tariffs is you will raise prices for all import users and that includes businesses and of course consumers,” Kudlow said. “You will wind up hurting millions of people to help 140,000 people in the steel industry. You will be hurting car buyers. Is that really what you want to do?”