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Trump Administration Still Not Free of Obama’s Midnight Regulations and Lawsuits

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Michael Sohn

The definition of midnight regulations are regulations issued when a sitting president is a lame duck after the election of a new president and before the swearing in of the new president. President Obama was not a good president, but he was really good at issuing midnight regulations in an effort to sabotage President Donald J. Trump. Obama’s army of left-wing lawyers were also busy writing up last minute lawsuits that provided political time bombs for Trump’s agenda.


It is time for the Trump administration to root out all of the bad actions and actors left behind by the Obama administration. President Trump did a good job of repealing some of the big regulations and, according to The Heritage Foundation, the Trump administration saved at least $23 billion with deregulation in Fiscal Year 2018. The problem is that Team Trump didn’t get all of them and there are still a number of progressive actions taken by the Obama administration that live on today like a character in The Walking Dead…they just won’t die!

The Trump administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) was supposed to streamline labor laws to promote economic growth after years of Obama administration harassment. During the troubled tenure of former Secretary Alexander Acosta, the DOL allowed the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to harass a number of tech companies with frivolous lawsuits. That agency is supposed to promote affirmative action with federal contractors, yet the Obama game plan was to aggressively use only statistical analysis to claim companies were discriminating against minority employees. The agency was originally tasked to promote affirmative action with government contractors, yet liberal activist lawyers morphed the agency into a battering ram of lawsuits intended on creating new case law establishing the idea that the government merely can use statistics to prove discrimination.


President Obama’s administration went after the tech companies Palantir, Google, then Oracle by alleging discrimination using statistics gathered as part of routine audits of these government contractors. In all of these suits, no actual evidence of discrimination was presented, merely statistics gathered that claimed to prove discrimination. This type of evidence would be tossed out in a real court, but with these suits, they were handled administratively and internally at the Department of Labor.

President Trump’s first choice to be Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, was a disaster, because he failed to back away from Obama’s last-minute lawsuits. The Washington Post reported on July 12, 2019, “Acosta, who aspired to be a federal judge, had a strategy as secretary to play a safe, inside game running the Labor Department, according to multiple current and former administration officials” and one of his goals was to placate “union leaders and Democrats on Capitol Hill.”  Acosta wanted to be confirmed by a future Senate as a judge and he was unwilling to rock the boat by implementing Trump-endorsed policies to streamline and repeal Obama era actions.  

Many pro-business interest groups were happy to see a businessman win the presidency, because they anticipated a wholesale change in heavy handed progressive policies that were slowing economic growth. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pointed out in a report that the OFCCP was in dire need of reform by the Trump administration, yet Secretary Acosta let liberal lawyers continue harassment of tech companies. Oracle was so outraged by continued harassment that they fought back and sued the federal government for violating the Constitution’s separation of powers arguing that the lawsuits statutory authority. The theory is that the federal government is not authorized to sue under a non-existing statute permitting statistical evidence to be used to prove discrimination without any other evidence. Conservatives hope that the new Secretary Eugene Scalia roots out the bad actors at Labor.


The Trump administration recently put in place a piece of “Zombie” legislation held over from that Obama administration. This anti-immigration investor regulation was yet another midnight regulation put out one week before the end of the Obama administration and mysteriously it lived on into Trumps presidency. This regulation was an effort to torpedo President Trump’s plan for a merit-based immigration system. This one came from the Department of Homeland Security. 

Politico reported that many officials at the State Department are providing testimony against their own boss in the impeachment hearings to the cheers from many in government. “Colleagues inside the State Department and their allies in the broader foreign policy community are quietly hailing them as heroes, with special praise for those testifying despite still being on the government payroll.” This continued duplicity shows that from the Department of Labor to DHS to State, there are elements of the Trump administration that are not too supportive of the Trump agenda. 

Now is the time for the Trump administration to finally right the ship and end the harassing lawsuits and regulations that were started by Obama and need to be put out by Trump. 

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