Trump Executive Order looks at comprehensive reorganization in executive branch
Since he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump has issued a number of impactful Executive Orders, but Harriet Hageman of Hageman Law, P.C. in Cheyenne says that one in particular was issued in mid-March that provides a reason for optimism.
“On March 13, President Trump issued the ‘Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch,’” Hageman said on March 17 during the CLE Water and Energy Law Conference. “I think we should all cheer. This could be absolutely huge.”
She cited ideas of states’ rights and private property rights as top priorities for the industry, which are echoed in the Executive Order.
“I believe our local and state agencies are better at addressing water and natural resource issues than that federal level,” Hageman explained. “There are only a couple of ways to succeed, and one of them has to be to cut power in Washington, D.C. and return it to the states.”
Hageman noted that, among the opportunities for cutting Washington, D.C.’s power is to reduce their funding levels through tax reform.
“Power needs to be returned to the states through tax reform,” she said.
She continued, “I think it’s a mistake to talk about whether a tax should be 40 percent or 35 percent. The discussion should be 40 percent or five percent.”
Taxing authority, Hageman added, should be in the hands of the states.
“As I was visiting yesterday, the topic about cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came up,” she said. “There are legitimate concerns in a state like Wyoming that is dependent on federal funds coming back to the state.”
While Hageman said she believes that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is a well-run office, they rely on federal monies that are returned to the states to do much of their work.
“I’d rather deal with DEQ when it comes to permitting, concentrated animal feeding operations and other issues,” she said. “It’s kind of scary to think about what a 30 percent cut to EPA would do to that agency and Wyoming.”
Instead, she promoted a concept of block grants to the states for funding.
“Don’t fund EPA through employees or Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act enforcement,” she explained. “Instead, provide funding to the states to enforce their own rules and regulations.”
Trump’s March 13 Executive Order begins, “This order is intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the executive branch by directing the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies and agency programs.”
Within 180 days of the March 13 release, the director of OMB is asked to submit a plan to reorganize the branch.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Hageman said. “It’s almost like a rhyme – waste, fraud and abuse, every administration talks about eliminating those three things.”
However, she continued, “They’ve got to do something about the $20 trillion in debt that the U.S. has. The current business model isn’t working, and we have to do something. I hope they are serious.”
Inside the reorganization
Hageman called several elements of the Executive Order “music to my ears,” as she read it.
For example, the Order states, “In developing the proposed plan, the Director shall consider, in addition to any other relevant factors, whether some or all functions of the agency, a component or a program are appropriate for the federal government or would be better left to state or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise.”
When states are involved, Hageman emphasized that many processes could be streamlined and more efficient while also costing substantially less.
The Order also called for an elimination of redundancies, evaluation of costs relative to public benefit and the cost of shutting down agencies.
“We never look at the cost-benefit analysis at the federal level,” Hageman said. “For example, I read about a study that Fish and Wildlife Service did where they were studying shrimp on treadmills. I don’t think we should be spending good money to study shrimp on treadmills.”
“Are we providing any public benefit from that? It’s an absurdity that we should spend money there,” she added.
Hageman noted, “It’s an interesting Executive Order, and we’ll have to see what comes of it.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.