David Harsanyi has a nice post at The Federalist about the way that Donald Trump has tended to limit executive power:
Say what you will about Donald Trump — and there’s plenty to say — he may be the first president in memory to actively limit his own branch’s power. Though far from perfect, on immigration, on funding issues, on international agreements, and on the regulatory state, the Trump administration has relinquished executive power.
So while civility, competence, and rhetoric matter, and none of those issues should be ignored, neither should the administration’s numerous actions that have helped reestablish some appropriate checks and balances.
Harsanyi cites the announced phase-out of the illegal DACA executive order, the announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord (a treaty-like document never ratified by the Senate), and the abolition of illegal cost-sharing reduction payments (read: subsidies) to health care insurers. In each case, Trump rolled back an illegal action by Obama.
It’s not all champagne and roses. Harsanyi does not mention the Syria missile strike — widely praised by many hawks, but in my view still an act of war without Congressional authorization. Trump’s initial executive order on immigration was a clear overreach born of sloppiness, targeting legal immigrants already in the U.S. as well as others. And I have no illusions that Trump is philosophically interested in limiting the power of the executive branch, as opposed to simply undoing whatever Barack Obama did. Harsanyi’s link to “and there’s plenty to say” slams Trump for threatening NBC in a way no President has a legitimate power to do. I’m sure there are other examples of overreach.
Still, there are positive signs cited by Harsanyi. I’m not going to get too carried away, but they are worth noting. Credit where credit is due. Hey, even a repulsive jackass can guard the sheep.
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]