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Is Donald Trump the New Swamp Fox?

Tuesday April 18th, 2017   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:24am PDT   •  

As a candidate, Donald Trump contended, “there’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse” in the federal government, an easily verified reality. As we noted, a recent internal study exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in Pentagon business operations, where the purchasing bureaucracy alone counted 207,000 full-time workers. The Environmental Protection Agency allowed “policy advisor” John Beale to skip out on years of work on the claim that he also worked for the CIA, and the EPA even paid him retention bonuses.

In his pledges to “drain the swamp,” Trump was particularly hard on lobbyists. Now, as Eric Lipton, Ben Protess and Andrew Lenhren contend in the New York Times, “President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.”

White House energy advisor Michael Catanzaro, for example, is a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry. In similar style, Chad Wolf lobbied for the Transportation Security Administration to spend big bucks on a new screening device. Wolf is now chief of staff at the TSA, which is evaluating this same device for possible purchase. By the reporters count, more than 40 former lobbyists now jostle in the White House and broader federal government.

As a television personality, one of Donald Trump’s signature lines was “You’re fired!” That has been missing from the script of President Trump, but not for lack of opportunity. It would be hard to think of a government official more loathsome than IRS boss John Koskinen, who did his best to cover up the IRS campaign to target groups that promote limited government and election integrity.

Republicans have been making a case for Trump to fire Koskinen, but the president has not done so. As Fox News reports, Trump and Koskinen “do have a history.” In 1975, when Trump made a deal to purchase New York’s Commodore Hotel from the bankrupt Penn Central Transportation Company, John Koskinen handled the sale as vice president of the Palmieri Company. As they say, it’s all who you know. The swamp may well be spreading, and the president doesn’t have much to say about it.

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April 2017