We’ve all heard media voices refer to the so-called “Deep State,” but since the term is relatively new, many Americans don’t understand what it means. Today I’ll try to explain what it means and how it effectively governs our country — and currently seeks to undermine President Trump at virtually every turn.
If you’re not sure what the term Deep State means, whether you are politically liberal or conservative, today’s discussion should be helpful. Prior to the term Deep State, we often referred to it as the “shadow government” or the “governing elite” or the “federal bureaucracy” among others.
Whatever the description, what’s pertinent to Washington today is that this cadre of entrenched federal employees, accountable to no one and difficult to fire, effectively controls much of government — and many are actively working to thwart Donald Trump’s policy agenda. Most politicos agree that we’ve never seen activism on this scale in our adult lifetimes.
One of my favorite political writers, Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, wrote an excellent column last week in which she used the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to illustrate the Deep State and just how pervasive it can be. I’ll summarize her thinking below.
Kim specifically refers to one of the EPA’s top jobs known as the “Scientific Integrity Official.” This high-level position was created by Barack Obama, who at his 2009 inaugural promised to “restore science to its rightful place.” This was his way of warning Republicans that there would be no more debate on climate change or other liberal environmental priorities.
Team Obama directed federal agencies to implement “scientific integrity” policies. Most government agencies tasked their senior leaders with overseeing these rules. But the EPA — always the over-achiever when it comes to burdensome regulation — bragged that it alone had chosen to “hire a senior level employee” whose only job would be to “act as a champion for scientific integrity throughout the agency.”
In 2013 the EPA hired Francesca Grifo, a longtime liberal activist at the far-left Union of Concerned Scientists. Dr. Grifo had long complained that EPA scientists were “under siege” by Republican “political appointees” and “industry lobbyists,” and she vowed to change it.
As the Scientific Integrity Official, Ms. Grifo would have the awesome power to root out all these meddlesome scientists with differing opinions. A 2013 Science Magazine story reported she would lead an entire Scientific Integrity Committee, write an annual report documenting science “incidents” at the agency, and even “investigate” science problems — alongside no less than the agency’s Inspector General.
The Science article continued: “Her job is not a political appointment, so it comes with civil service protections.” So here was a bureaucrat with the authority to define science and shut down those who disagreed, and she could not be easily fired, even under a new administration.
Under the Obama administration, EPA scientists were given carte blanche to take over the economy. It did not bother Ms. Grifo when EPA scientists used secret meetings and private email to collude with environmental groups — a practice definitely lacking in scientific integrity.
Since Donald Trump became president in January, Ms. Grifo and the EPA have intensified their efforts to undermine him. In March the Sierra Club demanded that the EPA’s Inspector General investigate whether Trump’s newly installed EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, had violated policy by the mere suggestion that carbon dioxide might not be the prime driver of global warming.
The EPA Inspector General referred the matter to … guess who… the Scientific Integrity Official, Ms. Grifo. So now an unelected, unappointed activist could pass judgment on whether the Senate-confirmed EPA chief is too unscientific to run his own agency. So much for elections.
Finally, the EPA has a “scientific integrity” conference planned for June. Of the 45 invitations sent, almost all went to representatives of liberal environmental groups. This is a government employee using taxpayer funds to gather political activists on government grounds to plot ways to sabotage the Trump administration.
If you’re wondering, like the rest of us, who is the source(s) of all the leaks coming out of Washington, look no further that the Deep State which is dominated by entrenched career bureaucrats who are government union members.
The EPA and Ms. Grifo are but one example of the Deep State of career bureaucrats throughout government. Many of these people are so-called “civil servants” who cannot be easily fired by a new president.
While President Trump is limited in his authority to fire these career bureaucrats, he has much broader powers to reduce the size of government agencies by cutting their budgets. His latest federal budget proposes to cut the size of the EPA by over 30%.
Of course, the odds of Trump’s 31% EPA budget cut getting through Congress are slim to none, but it will be interesting to watch.