Mick Mulvaney’s new job: shadow Labor Secretary?


Mick Mulvaney might wind up as the greatest multitasker since Leonardo da Vinci, if somewhat less artistic. Mulvaney left Congress to become Office of Management and Budget Director, then took over the Consumer Financial Protection Board in a political fight over its direction. Donald Trump then tapped Mulvaney to serve as his chief of staff, which would normally be a life-encompassing task in any administration, let alone this one.

But wait — there’s more! According to Bloomberg Law, Mulvaney has added yet another bullet point to the ol’ résumé. In his spare time, he runs the Department of Labor, they reported yesterday — because Trump can’t get Alex Acosta on board with his agenda:

President Donald Trump‘s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has seized power over the Labor Department’s rulemaking process out of frustration with the pace of deregulation under Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, according to current and former department officials and other people who communicate with the administration.

Upon arriving at the West Wing in January, Mulvaney instituted a formalized system for settling regulatory policy and timeline disputes between White House assistants and Acosta’s top aides, said people with direct knowledge of the process.

Conflicts are elevated to Mulvaney for a final decision, said one official with direct knowledge. Acosta and his staff have been losing these decisions so often that they’ve stopped bothering to appeal, said current and former DOL officials.

This has led to an acceleration of previously languishing rules on overtime pay, job training, and workplace safety that businesses have sought during the first two years of Trump’s administration. The White House intervention also signals more contentious regulations—such as rules to bolster union oversight or restrict workers from taking medical leave—could now be in the pipeline at a department that appears less likely to embody its secretary’s risk-averse style for the remainder of Trump’s presidency.

Mulvaney must be aiming for some incredible force multipliers on his retirement pension. I’ve heard of hoarding overtime, but this is ridiculous.

It’s ridiculous in another way, too. If Acosta won’t move the conservative agenda, why is he still serving on Trump’s Cabinet? It’s not as though Acosta presents any added value politically, as Paul Mirengoff argues at Power Line. In fact, he’s an embarrassment now that people have taken a hard look at the sweetheart deal he provided sex offender Jeffrey Epstein:

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Why not sack the “risk-averse” secretary, Alex Acosta? The number two man at DOL, Pat Pizzella, is able and conservative. With him in charge, Mulvaney probably wouldn’t have to worry about the possibility of having to referee disputes about overtime pay, job training, workplace safety rules, etc. None of this stuff traditionally occupies White House staff chiefs even in less turbulent administrations than this one. …

As an added bonus, Trump’s cabinet would no longer include a guy who gave a sweetheart deal to a pedophile, violating federal law in the process. And Trump wouldn’t have to worry about having that thrown in his face next year when he seeks reelection.

Mulvaney may not “mess around,” as one Bloomberg source says, but this mess needs to be cleaned up ASAP. Presumably, the holdup is because Trump doesn’t want to go through a confirmation process again with Labor. His first nominee, Andy Puzder, got shredded in that process, which led to the appointment of Acosta. Conservatives had major reservations about Acosta from the beginning. No one foresaw the Epstein matter coming out of left field as it did the last few months, but otherwise conservatives were right in their suspicions about Acosta’s commitment to Trump’s agenda.

Trump may not have much choice now, though. Bloomberg’s article will no doubt get attention in Congress, and House Democrats in particular will want to open up yet another investigation into how Labor is being run. That’s a legitimate oversight issue, as the Senate-confirmed leader appears to have been cut entirely out of the loop by the White House. It would be better for Trump to nominate a replacement now and rip the Band-Aid off quickly than to allow this situation to continue for much longer. Trump deserves to have a Cabinet head that is committed to his agenda, and the Senate deserves to have a say in who’s actually running a federal agency.

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