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Hold tight we’re in for nasty weather

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Paul Waldman observes that the Trump administration opening up ANWR for drilling is part of what will be an epic smash-and-grab operation as executive branch Republicans see themselves as likely being on the way out:

In fact, I suspect that Trump spent about 30 seconds signing off on drilling in the ANWR, if he knew about it at all. This is perhaps the single most important policy dynamic in his administration: Because he cares so little about policy, and because saner Republicans have refused to work for him, his administration is populated by a combination of grifters and far-right ideologues who are given free rein to enact whatever extremist policies their little hearts desire.

They are acutely aware that they could be out of their jobs come January. So they’re going to use every moment they have to do as much damage as they can. You can expect a steady stream of regulatory changes and policy initiatives coming out of federal departments, even if they’re drowned out in the news by the campaign.

Unlike Republicans in Congress — who all but gave up legislating after they passed a tax cut in 2017 and don’t seem to care about doing much else but confirming more conservative judges — the people ensconced in the departments have much more they want to do. There are public lands to despoil, people’s health insurance to take away, immigrants to expel and so much more.

Which is why, should Joe Biden win, he’s going to have to create teams of experts who can catalogue the long list of horrors, then devise plans to undo what has been done in this dark period. We’re going to be focusing on the legislation he promotes in his first month in office, but this task will be just as important.

It may even intensify in the two and a half months between the election and the inauguration. If you were an EPA appointee looking to impress the oil companies you hope will hire you as a lobbyist once your tenure in “public” service is over, you’d take advantage of every minute you had left to advance their interests.

Even in the optimistic scenario of a Dem trifecta in 2021, the amount of damage that will need to be cleaned up is enormous.

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