As soon as the election results sank in, sleepy federal bureaucrats woke up and shifted into high gear, furiously finalizing regulations that could be issued before President Obama leaves office. According to The New York Times, President Obama “is using every power at his disposal to cement his legacy and establish his priorities as the law of the land,” and the new rules are “intended to set up as many policy and ideological roadblocks as possible before Mr. Trump takes his oath of office on Jan. 20.”
Some of these last-minute regulations can be revoked by President Trump on his first day in office. Others can be overturned by Congress under the Congressional Review Act, a process that requires only 51 Senate votes if the Senate acts within 60 legislative days after the rules were published.
Washington’s permanent governing class is also preparing to fight the new president in every possible way. Ground zero of the opposition is the Center for American Progress (CAP), which employs hundreds of staffers and enjoys a budget of $50 million.
“Our goal is to be the central hub of the Trump resistance,” CAP’s president recently announced. It has just hired retiring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s deputy chief of staff, who said, “I hope to bring a relentlessly aggressive attitude” to the organization whose website promises to “push back rapidly and forcefully” against the incoming Trump administration.
Founded in 2003 by John Podesta, who took a leave of absence to run Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, CAP is now run by a former Hillary aide named Neera Tanden. Since 2011 she has been president of both CAP itself, which claims to be a nonpartisan think tank, and its affiliated “action fund,” which shares the same office and staff.
In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly pioneered the idea of having (c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations work together under one roof, each with its own separate board and tax status, but with common leadership and staff. For decades, her organizations were the only major interest group to adopt that dual structure, which was blessed by a 1983 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Unlike Phyllis Schlafly, who frugally managed small donations from thousands of supporters, Neera Tanden enjoys millions of dollars in grants from major corporations and foundations. Among the household names that have given five- to seven-figure donations to CAP are Walmart, AT&T, Microsoft, Facebook, Citibank and Bank of America.
With major corporations funding the opposition to Trump, and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce openly opposing Trump’s popular positions on trade and immigration, the Trump administration will have to fight on every front to accomplish what his supporters are expecting. Many of the same corporations that fund the Left to oppose Trump are also funding the Republican Congress, where they will try to enact Speaker Paul Ryan’s agenda instead of President Trump’s.
President-elect Trump is preparing for the coming battle by keeping “the two Steves” on board. While the media focuses on the parade of people being nominated for various cabinet secretaries, the President-elect’s most important appointments were for his White House staff: Stephen K. Bannon as chief strategist (formal title: senior counselor to the president) and Stephen Miller as chief speechwriter (formal title: senior adviser to the president for policy).
The value of Steve Bannon can be judged by testimonial published last week by the great David Horowitz, who has chronicled a lifetime of battling the Left in a series of books including Radical Son. Horowitz, who also helped Stephen Miller start a conservative student club at Duke University, nominated Stephen Bannon for “man of the year” because of Bannon’s indispensable role in guiding Trump to victory.
Horowitz sees in Bannon what Bannon saw in Trump: someone with “an affinity for the blue-collar voters who eventually put Trump over the top. Instinctively combative, Bannon understood how important it was for the candidate to break free from the mainstream media filter that was busy crucifying him.”
“Most importantly,” Horowitz wrote, “Bannon and Trump shared a courage unique in Republican quarters. Call it character. The ability to stand firm under fire. For Bannon and Trump, getting America back on track took precedence over hurt progressive feelings. They did not back down under even the heaviest left-wing fire.”
In his own year-end interview with his former colleagues at Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon promised: “I think 2017 will be, actually, more exciting than 2016 was.” But he cautioned Trump supporters to “stay engaged” in order to “hold people accountable.”
“The Hobbits and the Deplorables had a great run in 2016,” Bannon continued. “Everybody mocked them and ridiculed them, and now they’ve spoken. I think people are engaged; they feel like they have a voice. It’s going to be a great year. Stay engaged.”
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously on September 6.