To paraphrase President Donald Trump, “not many people know” that Big Brother had the power to interfere in a homeowner’s landscaping project. Not anymore. The horribly intrusive federal regulations that had been on the books since Ronald Reagan was president have been repealed.
Just ask Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
Last week, he flew to the nation’s capital to participate in an event on the White House lawn billed as “President Trump Rolling Back Regulations to Help All Americans.” And said this in his two-minute cameo near the end.
“These regulations over the past 40 years have really, in many respects, killed the American Dream.” As an example, Dunleavy cited landowners who want “to do a little landscaping on their property” and asked “do they have to look over their shoulder and wonder if big government is watching them? Can they do what they need to do on their private property?” Yes, he replied, because Trump has “restored the hope that they can — that they can realize the American Dream.”
Politicians making things up to show how government regulations are stomping on our freedom isn’t a new genre of fiction. One of the most insidious tales was told by one of Dunleavy’s predecessors in 2009. Reading from the thin air above her head, Sarah Palin found “death panels” in the legislation that would become Obamacare. She said it would empower government bureaucrats to decide if elderly or disabled Americans “are worthy of health care.”
When he was Alaska’s Attorney General, Sen. Dan Sullivan argued Congress might interpret the Obamacare individual mandate as the “authority to regulate practically any sphere of American life.” In his 48-page legal analysis, he imagined we might soon be required to purchase “a GM vehicle” or “a federally-approved gym membership.”
Trump’s deregulation fictions have a different purpose. They’re supposed to make us believe he’s the greatest president ever. He began last week’s show by saying his administration had “launched the most dramatic regulatory relief campaign in American history by far.” And added that it’s already delivered an annual savings of $3,100 to the average American household.
That claim had been previously scrutinized and debunked.
Trump went on to muse that deregulation has produced historically low home energy bills and gasoline prices. But the $1.99 price at the pump he mentioned as evidence is a result of the COVID-19 induced recession. Oil prices began falling around the first week of March, the same time Trump implored Americans to “stay calm” because he believed the virus was under control and would simply “go away.”
That didn’t happen. So, on the White House lawn, Trump made up this headline to describe how deregulation was part of his response. “No administration in history has removed more red tape more quickly to rescue the economy and to protect the health of our people.”
He certainly failed to protect the health of the 140,000 Americans killed by the virus. And with number of cases increasing exponentially across the south, the national nightmare isn’t over. About 40 million people lost their jobs. More than a hundred thousand small businesses have temporarily shut down. And to stabilize the hemorrhaging economy, Congress is poised to pass another massive relief bill.
A few speakers last week made an honest case for deregulation.
When they were finished, Trump came back and warned the “entire economy and our very way of life” is being threatened. Because if Joe Biden is elected president in November, he’ll implement regulations that “eliminate single-family zoning, destroy the value of houses and communities already built” and “totally destroy the beautiful suburbs.”
As the show wound down, Vice President Mike introduced Dunleavy by recalling a story he heard about our governor. During “his first year in office, his administration modified or rolled back 239 different regulations in over 100 professions.”
If that were true, Pence wouldn’t be the first to tell us. There would have been plenty of press releases from Dunleavy’s office. And Alaska’s news media would have published dozens of stories about it.
Dunleavy could have shown some humility and respectfully corrected Pence. But that would have betrayed the reason he was invited. Which, for Trump’s sake, was to help make it look like America is doing great when reality says we’re not.
• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector.