Pollyanna Will Not Like this Story

glad game

Washington Post, Trump-Barr divide worsens as the president bucks a request to stop tweeting, and the Justice Dept. declines to charge ex-FBI official McCabe. Buried deep within the story, we read,

The public rebuke of the president by a sitting member of his Cabinet arose from a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, which had been accused this week of buckling to an angry tweet the president issued after he learned of prosecutors’ initial prison recommendation for his longtime friend Roger Stone.

Jonathan Chait, Obama Auto Standards May Survive Because Trump Staff Can’t Do Math

The Tradeoff

Senior civil servants make a tradeoff. Pretty much invariably, they could make much more money outside the government. They stay inside in exchange for job security, responsibility, and the opportunity to do good.

Hanging by a Thread

At this point, it’s likely that many, many of our public servants are just hanging on until November of this year. (The New York Times story implies that a whole bunch of career lawyers are just before walking out the door, right here and now.)

If Trump is reelected, the civil servant tradeoff will change fundamentally. Job security, responsibility, and the opportunity to do good will be gone. The choice will be: take service as Trump’s lackey, or make a whole lot more money in a private professional job.

Which option will look more attractive—or the least unattractive?

What the hell do you think they are going to do?

A Hollowed Out Bureaucracy, Personnel by Incompetent, Otherwise Unemployable Lickspittles

The competent and the well-intentioned will leave in droves. There will be a move to install even more Trumpian lickspittles. But the government will be largely hollowed out. Its mechanisms will begin to grind to a halt.

Jonathan Chait gives us a foretaste—simultaneously playing the Glad Game along with Pollyanna:

One of the Obama administration’s most effective climate initiatives was tightened regulations of auto emissions, which will reduce carbon emissions by billions of tons. Trump, of course, is trying to roll it back. The good news is that he is almost certainly too incompetent to pull it off in his first term.

When regulatory agencies write new rules, they have to follow some fairly complicated legal procedures, which often have to hold up under judicial scrutiny. Historically, agencies win about 80 percent of the time against legal challenges. But Trump’s regulations lose about 90 percent of the time, because his administration is staffed with incompetent hacks.

The courts will soon be fighting over Trump’s plan to weaken auto-emission standards. Trump is highly likely to lose, because, as two new reports show, the incompetence of his regulators reached almost mind-boggling proportions.

The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer has a deep dive into how Trump’s political appointees circumvented all the nonpolitical experts and tried to come up with cost-benefit studies justifying their decision. Meyer’s account of the bureaucratic car wreck should be read in whole, but here are a few highlights. They mixed up supply and demand, assuming higher prices would cause more cars to be driven …

Their own roster of economists dismissed their numbers …

They even failed arithmetic. (“At one point, the NHTSA team forgot to divide by four.”)