Is Sec. Acosta committed to regulatory rollback at the Labor Department?

In a piece called “Why the Acosta nomination is very bad news for conservatives,” I wrote this about Alex Acosta, the then-nominee (since confirmed) for the job of Secretary of Labor:

The Department of Labor plays a key role in areas of major interest to conservatives, especially immigration, wage and hour law, and civil rights. The left had its way, and then some, under Tom Perez, President Obama’s Labor Secretary.

Conservatives were counting on the new Secretary to reverse the many excesses of the past eight years. Acosta’s history of determination not to upset the left strongly suggests that our expectations will be dashed.

Was this assessment too bleak? Time will tell.

But a report by Ben Penn of Bloomberg-BNA suggests that regulatory rollback may not be a priority for Secretary Acosta. Penn’s report (which is behind a pay wall) is called “Acosta on Day One Talks Jobs, Not Regulatory Rollback.” He writes, “missing from the labor secretary’s comments on his first day was any mention of the regulatory rollback that is now expected to occupy a significant amount of the department’s work.” Penn cites this letter from Acosta to Labor Department employees.

To be sure, the fact that Acosta didn’t mention regulatory rollback right out the box doesn’t mean he won’t push for it. As noted, Penn says that “regulatory rollback. . .is now expected to occupy a significant amount of the department’s work.”

Still, Penn found Acosta’s decision not to mention regulatory rollback worth noting in the headline of his story. It’s fair to assume that decision was the result either of lack of commitment to that objective or an unwillingness to upset Labor Department employees.

Even if we give Acosta the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just playing to his audience, that’s still a bad sign, especially given Acosta’s history at the Department of Justice of playing to a liberal audience — left-wing civil rights groups. I continue to fear that Acosta will not act vigorously to reverse the excesses of the Obama/Perez years.

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