Donald Trump’s administration will not be an entirely orthodox conservative affair. The Carrier deal so demonstrates.
However, Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA demonstrates that, in important respects, the Trump administration will likely be more conservative than that of George H.W. and George W. Bush, and more conservative than a John McCain or Mitt Romney administration probably would have been.
William Reilly was the EPA administrator under the first Bush; Christine Todd Whitman under the second. Both were, at best, center-left on environmental issues. Both, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, “more or less agreed with the left’s command-and-control model of environmental regulation, and they’d pile more costs on the private economy.”
Pruitt is a committed conservative. He can be expected to curb the EPA’s abusive imposition of an extremist green agenda that, lacking a sound statutory basis, has caused the Agency radically to reinterpret the law. Pruitt has been a leader in challenging this regulatory overreach.
Pruitt’s efforts have led the mainstream media to brand him an extremist. But, as a friend who has practiced environmental law for decades, says: “Lisa Jackson [who headed the EPA under Obama for four years] was at least as far left than Pruitt is right.” And Pruitt will have the law on his side far more often than Jackson did, I expect.
Where is it written that Democratic presidents get to nominate leftists for key jobs like EPA head, while Republican presidents must nominate moderates? Only in the pages of most mainstream media newspapers.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board makes the case for Pruitt:
President Obama couldn’t get his climate-change agenda through a Democratic Congress, so he ordered the EPA to impose it on the 50 states by diktat. The agency reinterpreted statute after ancient statute as its bureaucrats saw fit, daring the courts to stop them. Think of the Clean Power Plan to put the coal industry out of business, the carbon endangerment rule, grabbing authority to call any pond or puddle a “waterway,” and so much more.
Mr. Pruitt’s first job will be restoring respect for the Constitution and cooperative federalism in EPA rule-making. He knows how to do this because he led the legal charge by the states against EPA abuses, including the victory of a Supreme Court stay on the Clean Power Plan as it moves through the appellate courts.
Pruitt is not the first key Trump cabinet nominee whose selection portends a strong — and stronger than I expected — commitment to conservative principles. But Jeff Sessions and Ben Carson were early, high-profile Trump supporters.
Scott Pruitt was a Jeb Bush supporter. His selection, and that of Tom Price for the Department of Health and Human Services, are the best evidence of the conservative orientation of the Trump administration.