October 16, 2020

President Trump's team is on a last-minute deregulation spree.

In an attempt to further as many of Republicans' deregulation goals as possible, Trump's team is eclipsing the usual process for changing regulations and pushing them through without public comment or analysis. The rushed processes could have major safety and privacy consequences for millions of Americans, but seems to be a sign Trump is preparing for an election loss, The New York Times reports.

Regulatory changes usually require at least a 60-day public comment period, but Trump's team has shortened that to 30 days. And in some cases, it has even skipped the public comment period entirely by implementing what's known as an interim final rule — something usually reserved for emergencies. Without these public comment periods, regulations can pass without expert analysis and opinions that can root out safety shortcomings and other issues. It's all being done in a likely attempt to get rules quickly finalized before Trump's term ends in January — and before he's potentially forced to leave office.

The Trump administration is looking to loosen restrictions on how long truck drivers can stay behind the wheel, allow the federal government to take biometric data from people applying for citizenship, and let independent contractors work more before they have to be considered employees, among other regulations. The interim final rule has meanwhile been used to further the Labor Department's restriction of H-1B visas for skilled workers. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:59 p.m.

One thing is for sure: Thursday night's presidential debate was a far more civil and — dare we say — normal event than the first. Moderated by NBC's Kristen Welker, the candidates stayed more or less on topic, something the first debate's moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, didn't fail to notice.

Asked for his response to the second and final debate, Wallace said: "First of all, I'm jealous. I would've liked to have been able to moderate that debate and get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions."

"I thought it was a good debate," Wallace went on. "A good, substantive debate. Two very competing visions for the country." Jeva Lange

10:41 p.m.

President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden have both faced criticism over their respective immigration records, a topic that came to the fore at the presidential debate on Thursday night.

Trump specifically was asked what the United States is doing to find the parents of over 500 migrant children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. "Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people," Trump claimed, adding vaguely that "we're trying very hard" to reunite the families.

"Coyotes didn't bring them over, their parents were with them," Biden said in response. "They were separated from their parents. And it makes us the laughing stock and it violates every notion of who we are as a nation."

"Who built the cages, Joe? Talk about who built the cages," Trump said.

"Let's talk about what happened," Biden went on. "Parents — their kids were ripped from their arms, and separated. And now they cannot find over 500 of the sets of those parents. And those kids are alone. Nowhere to go, nowhere to go. It's criminal. It's criminal.”

"They are so well taken care of," Trump said in defense. "They’re in facilities that are so clean."

Biden also faced pressure over the Obama administration's immigration policies, under which there were record deportations. "We made a mistake," Biden said of that 2013 effort. "We took too long to get it right."

He noted that this time around, there would be a major difference: "I'll be president United States, not vice president, United States.” Jeva Lange

10:38 p.m.

President Trump has declared himself "the least racist person in the room," without a hint of irony.

During Thursday night's presidential debate, moderator Kristen Welker asked Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden to speak directly to Black parents and address why they need to give their children "the talk" about systemic racism in America. Biden gave a personal response about why Black parents have to tell their children how to behave with police, but he never had to do the same with his children. Trump, meanwhile, focused on how he had granted clemency to some incarcerated people and passed a criminal justice reform bill.

At the end of his meandering response, Trump then made a big statement: "I am the least racist person in this room." "I can't even see the audience because it's so dark. But I don't care who's in the audience. I'm the least racist person in this room," he later repeated. Biden responded with a dose of sarcasm: "Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we've had in modern history." Trump didn't get the joke. Kathryn Krawczyk

Opinion
10:30 p.m.

President Trump's characterization of his trade war with China at the presidential debate Thursday evening was an unusually vivid reminder that he does not, in fact, understand how tariffs work.

"China is paying," Trump said. "They're paying billions and billions of dollars. I just gave $28 billion to our farmers — "

"Taxpayers' money," Democratic nominee Joe Biden interjected.

"It was China — " Trump paused. "It's what?"

"Taxpayers' money," Biden reiterated. "It didn't come from China."

"Yeah, you know who the taxpayer is? It's called China," Trump crowed. "China paid $28 million, and you know what they did to pay it, Joe? They devalued their currency, and they also paid up. And you know who got the money? Our farmers. Our great farmers, because they were targeted."

This misconception — that the country targeted by U.S. tariffs pays those taxes — seems to be lodged deep in Trump's mind. "Billions of Dollars are pouring into the coffers of the U.S.A. because of the Tariffs being charged to China," he tweeted in 2018, thrilling that this would "just make our Country richer than ever before!"

The reality is that U.S. tariffs on foreign imports are paid, as Biden said, by American consumers. Tariffs do raise revenues for Washington, but they do so at the U.S. public's expense, as foreign producers pass these costs along to their customers. Tariffs don't put foreign funds in Washington's coffers.

So that $28 billion in farm subsidies Trump touted — which many farmers, for the record, have said is a shoddy substitute for free trade — was indeed paid by American taxpayers. Because of Trump's trade war, we're spending more on imported goods (paying our own government's tariffs). And we're also paying to subsidize farmers whose business has been hurt, perhaps irreparably, by Chinese retaliation to the tariffs Trump imposed, evidently without a clue about what they really do. Bonnie Kristian

Opinion
10:29 p.m.

Sometimes, virtue signaling is good.

During Thursday night's presidential debate, amid dueling accusations of personal and familial corruption between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Biden tried to steer the conversation back to the ostensible reason Americans were watching the debate in the first place: To see which candidate would serve their needs and desires best.

"It's not about his family or my family," Biden said. "It's about your family."

It was a great line. Somewhat astonishingly, though, Trump mocked Biden for this assertion. "Typical politician," he grumbled.

Trump wasn't actually wrong. Politicians have been invoking a mythical family making decisions around a dinner table almost since dinner tables were invented. It's a well-worn, even hokey trope that The Simpsons once satirized memorably.

But some tropes are valuable, venerable traditions. By invoking the dinner table, Biden was reminding Americans that governing is more than scandal-mongering, navel gazing and trying to win the day on Fox News. It is about creating the conditions for citizens to survive and even thrive, both as individuals and as a broader community. We vote for candidates — not for them to serve themselves, but to serve us.

Trump suggested that he became president because of his refusal to invoke the dinner table. "I'm not a typical politician," he said. But "typical" is sometimes another word for "normal" — and Biden's chief selling point in this campaign has been a return to normalcy. If the polls are any indication, a lot of Americans are sitting around their dinner tables hoping for just that. Joel Mathis

10:13 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called President Trump's attacks against his family during Thursday night's debate "malarkey," adding, "there's a reason for it. He doesn't want to talk about substantive issues."

When asked by moderator Kristen Welker about election security, Trump instead pivoted to talking about Biden and his family, repeating an allegation from a GOP report claiming they received more than $3 million from Russia. Trump mentioned these allegations — which Biden denied — multiple times, and Biden moved to shut him down after being asked a question about China.

Biden said the debate isn't "about his family and my family. It's about your family, and your family is hurting badly. If you're a middle class family, you're getting hurt badly now. You're sitting at the kitchen table this morning deciding, well, we can't get new tires, they're bald, because we have to wait another month or so, or are we going to be able to pay the mortgage, or whose going to tell her she can't go back to community college. Those are the decisions you're making."

Trump scoffed at Biden, calling his remarks "a typical political statement ... the family around the table, just the typical politician. I'm not a typical politician and that's why I got elected." Catherine Garcia

10:05 p.m.

President Trump has a miracle scenario brewing in the back of his mind.

During Thursday night's presidential debate, Democratic nominee Joe Biden outlined his plan to expand the Affordable Care Act under a proposal he's coining as "BidenCare." But Trump would "like to terminate ObamaCare" and "come up with a brand new beautiful plan," which he thinks will pass Congress because the Democrats would be under "tremendous pressure." "We might even have the House by that time," Trump said, repeating that "I think we're going to win the House."

Trump later revealed a bit more about his overly hopeful House victory plan: He's counting on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) failure to pass a coronavirus relief plan to flip a few Democratic seats, ignoring the fact that the House already passed its plan months ago.

This ObamaCare-bashing dream also neglects the fact that Republicans held the House, Senate, and presidency at the beginning of Trump's term but failed to pass a health care plan, and that he still hasn't come up with a health care plan since then. Kathryn Krawczyk

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