U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (standing, L-R), Vice President Mike Pence and Staff Secretary Rob Porter welcomes...
JONATHAN ERNST

To Big Oil’s delight, Trump signs his first meaningful bill into law

The bulk of Donald Trump’s presidential acts have been executive actions, not signing legislation into law. Soon after taking office, the Republican signed a waiver allowing John Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense, and about a week later, he signed a small measure related to the Comptroller General’s powers, but other than these largely overlooked policies, Trump hasn’t put his signature on many bills.

As Politico noted, that changed a bit yesterday.
President Donald Trump Tuesday signed the first in a series of congressional regulatory rollback bills, revoking an Obama-era regulation that required oil and mining companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments.

That regulation, part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, was strongly opposed by the oil and gas industry – including Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who as head of Exxon Mobil personally lobbied to kill the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rule that he said would make it difficult to do business in Russia.

“It’s a big deal,” Trump said at the signing.
That’s a matter of perspective. Oil giants want the ability to hide payments they make to foreign governments, and Republican policymakers agreed to prioritize this as 2017 got underway. Democrats wouldn’t agree to the change in the Obama era, but now that the GOP is in a dominant position, the disclosure requirement will not be implemented.

ExxonMobil was no doubt pleased with the president’s bill signing yesterday, but for the American mainstream, this isn’t “a big deal” at all.

What struck me as interesting, however, is what Trump said at the bill-signing ceremony, which took place in the Oval Office, and which lasted a grant total of two minutes.

From the White House transcript:
“This is a big signing, a very important signing. And this is H.J. Resolution 41, disapproving the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rule on disclosure of payments by resource extraction issuers. It’s a big deal. And I want to thank Speaker Paul Ryan for being here. He’s been tremendous. Jeb Hensarling very, very important and really worked hard. Representative Bill Huizenga and all of the friends – Peter – all of my friends are up here. And we really appreciate it.

“This is one of many that we’ve signed, and we have many more left. And we’re bringing back jobs big league, we’re bringing them back at the plant level; we’ve bringing them back at the mine level. The energy jobs are coming back.”
Show of hands: who believes Trump knows what this bill is and what the legislation does? Based on his comments, the president seems convinced the legislation has something to do with energy-sector jobs, but that’s really not the case.

What’s more, this keeps happening. Trump was reportedly annoyed with his aides recently when he wasn’t fully briefed on an executive order – after he’d already put his signature on it. Soon after, the president signed an order allowing financial advisors to rip off investors, and by all appearances, he had no idea what his directive was all about.

It’s been like the movie “Anchorman”: instead of an anchor who’ll say anything on the teleprompter in front of him, we have a president who’ll sign any document his aides put in front of him.