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Trump's presidency is becoming increasingly irrelevant

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Although Gen. John Kelly has reduced White House chaos somewhat, the firings and shakeups are unremitting.

Trump's Cabinet secretaries don't seem to have a clue. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos still wants to spend taxpayer money on for-profit schools and colleges that cheat their students. Won't happen. The EPA's Scott Pruitt is trying to strip the agency of scientists -- another brainless scheme.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin still has no idea how to deal with Congress. He tried to persuade Republican House members to support Trump's budget deal with the Democrats by asking them to do it "for me."

Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Prices didn't resign for his ethical breaches. If ethics were the criteria, most of the Trump administration would be gone. Price broke Trump's cardinal rule, which was never to get bad headlines for Trump.

Top echelons of departments and agencies are still empty. Trump has said "in many cases, we don't want to fill those jobs," which means decisions are being made by career civil servants and industry lobbyists.

By the start of September, more than a third of the leadership positions at the Federal Emergency Management Agency were still vacant. Not a good way to begin hurricane season. Puerto Rico, anyone?

As of mid-September, out of 599 key government positions that require Senate confirmation, Trump had made only 159 nominations, according to The Washington Post. Trump had yet to submit nominations for 320 positions.

Trump's political clout is waning among Republicans. He couldn't even get his pick elected in a Senate primary in Alabama, a state bulging with Trump voters.

Business leaders have deserted him over his remarks over Charlottesville. NFL owners have turned on him over his remarks about players. Tom Brady, who once called Trump "a good friend," now calls him "divisive."

Don't get me wrong. Trump is still a dangerous showman and con man -- tweeting condemnations of critics and ranting before friendly crowds at his never-ending campaign rallies. He continues to fuel bigotry and meanness. He has reduced America's standing in the world. His outbursts could start a nuclear war.

But when it comes to the actual work of governing America, Trump is becoming utterly and completely irrelevant.

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(Robert Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few," now available in paperback. His new film, "Inequality for All," is now out on Amazon, DVD and On Demand. His daily blog is at www.facebook.com/RBReich/.)

 

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