Monthly Archives: July 2017

Repealing the Arbitration Rule

Any politician that states his goal is to protect the consumer, should ask us if we want that protection.  I say no, I’ve seen how well all the other federal programs work.

Just how stupid do politicians and bureaucrats think consumers are?

“Mr. Cordray said the ban would protect consumers, but his own agency’s study suggests otherwise. Consumers who prevailed in arbitration recovered on average $5,389 while those who joined class actions received $32. Trial lawyers on average raked in $1 million.”

 

Repealing the Arbitration Rule

Congress can kill Cordray’s payoff to his trial-lawyer funders.

By The WSJ Editorial Board

July 25, 2017 7:32 p.m. ET

 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray has been on a regulatory tear as he prepares to run for Governor in Ohio. But many of the Obama appointee’s midnight rule-makings need not see the light of day—for instance, his arbitrary ban on mandatory arbitration that the House voted to repeal on Tuesday.

The Congressional Review Act lets a majority of both chambers rescind a final agency rule issued in the past 60 legislative days. The 231-190 House vote overturns the CFPB’s new rule prohibiting class-action waivers in virtually all financial consumer-service agreements. Twenty-four GOP Senators have introduced a similar resolution.

Mr. Cordray said the ban would protect consumers, but his own agency’s study suggests otherwise. Consumers who prevailed in arbitration recovered on average $5,389 while those who joined class actions received $32. Trial lawyers on average raked in $1 million.

Most claims can’t be litigated on a class basis—though trial attorneys try—and arbitration provides an affordable and expeditious alternative. Companies typically pick up most if not all of the filing, administrative and arbitrator costs. Consumers usually obtain relief within two months, while class actions typically take years to resolve.

The rule would cause many firms to stop using arbitration since they would have to spend more defending class actions. The CFPB estimates that financial companies would spend between $2.62 billion and $5.23 billion over the next five years—much of which would go to attorneys—to defend some 6,000 class actions.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, another plaintiff-bar favorite, cites Wells Fargo , which was found to have opened millions of unauthorized accounts in the names of its customers. But Wells Fargo agreed to settle the case on a class basis for $142 million—twice as much as estimated consumer out-of-pocket losses—because arbitrating individual disputes could have cost much more. The bank also paid $185 million to regulators and agreed to refund fees for unauthorized accounts.

Mr. Cordray wants to build a nationwide plaintiff-lawyer fund-raising base for his Ohio campaign. And he may hope that a few Republican Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham will sink the repeal resolution for their trial-bar campaign donors. But if Republicans stand together on repeal, the CFPB would be prohibited from ever issuing a similar rule. Republicans can strike a blow for the rule of law and against a major progressive cash source for Democrats with a single vote.

Appeared in the July 26, 2017, print edition.

Title: Re-affirms one’s faith in the Austrian School of Economics; that freedom begins with economic freedom…

Re-affirms one’s faith in the Austrian School of Economics; that freedom begins with economic freedom…

“But for the tax side of “one big idea,” Laffer would like to see corporate-tax reform. I agree. Reagan used to say, “Give me half a loaf now, and I’ll get the other half later.” Well, I’d take the half-loaf of corporate tax cuts right now.”

“…said Forbes, who offered an alternative: “The smart approach is get this economy moving through these tax cuts and deregulation … and then having a stable dollar, and then you sit down with country by country and remove trade barriers.” Anything but the trade protectionism that blew up the stock market in 1929.

“To which Laffer added the great line: “Don’t just stand there; undo something!”

“”Cut taxes, stabilize the dollar, reduce tariffs, reduce regulation,” he said. “Undo, undo, undo and undo the damages these other guys have done.””

For the original link to this article, please go here.

Big Economic Ideas From Art Laffer and Steve Forbes
Big Economic Ideas From Art Laffer and Steve Forbes
I participated in perhaps a bit of radio history last week when Steve Forbes and Art Laffer joined me on my syndicated radio show. It may have been the first time these supply-side economics giants were ever together over the airwaves.

Forbes, of course, is chairman of Forbes Media, and he twice ran brilliant issue campaigns for president. And Laffer, once a key adviser to President Ronald Reagan, is father to the groundbreaking Laffer Curve, for which he should have won a Nobel prize. In our discussion, they didn’t disappoint. (For a full transcript, visit http://c10.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/kudlow-transcript_20170715.html.)

We started with “one big idea.” That’s how the late Jack Kemp approached economic policy reform back in the 1980s. And his big idea, embraced by Reagan, was a mix of low marginal tax rates to spur economic growth incentives and a sound, reliable dollar to conquer inflation and create confidence. (This duplicated President John F. Kennedy’s prosperity model, which Brian Domitrovic and I wrote about in “JFK and the Reagan Revolution.”)

But these days, if you adhere to that big idea, you’re ridiculed as clinging to the past. My guests would have none of it.

“We need it now more than ever,” said Forbes. “To say that just because it worked 40 years ago, therefore it’s old, is like saying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are old, therefore we can cast them aside.”

Forbes’ version of “one big idea” is a flat tax and a sound dollar linked to gold. If we have that, we’ll be the “land of opportunity again.”

Laffer agreed. “Our economic verities have remained forever,” he said. “They go back to caveman, pre-cavemen. Incentives matter: If you reward an activity, then people do more of it. If you punish an activity, people do less of it.”

But for the tax side of “one big idea,” Laffer would like to see corporate-tax reform. I agree. Reagan used to say, “Give me half a loaf now, and I’ll get the other half later.” Well, I’d take the half-loaf of corporate tax cuts right now.

And that would work for Forbes, who can see income-tax reform following corporate-tax reform. Of President Trump, he said, “Even if we get to this two years down the road, I think he’d be amenable to doing something radical like a flat tax.”

But why is it that our Democratic friends in the economics profession and politics work so hard to discredit the idea of lowering marginal tax rates on the extra dollar earned to spark the positive incentives that lead to prosperity?

“Let me put it just succinctly,” answered Laffer. “These people are willing to rebut arguments they know to be true in order to curry favors with their political benefactors.”

To which Forbes added: “A lot of these far-left ideologues would rather have a smaller economy and more government power than a bigger economy and a smaller government.”

From that sad truth, we moved to prosperity killers — trade protectionism in particular, about which there is still much talk within the Trump camp. Where, I asked, does trade protectionism — including tariffs on China — fit into the low-tax-rate, strong-dollar prosperity model?

“It doesn’t,” said Forbes, who offered an alternative: “The smart approach is get this economy moving through these tax cuts and deregulation … and then having a stable dollar, and then you sit down with country by country and remove trade barriers.” Anything but the trade protectionism that blew up the stock market in 1929.

To which Laffer added the great line: “Don’t just stand there; undo something!”

“Cut taxes, stabilize the dollar, reduce tariffs, reduce regulation,” he said. “Undo, undo, undo and undo the damages these other guys have done.”

One of those damages is Obamacare. And the fear now is that it will never get undone.

But my guests were optimistic, if philosophical. How will we get true free-market health care reform?

“You do this often, sometimes with great leaps but sometimes step by step,” said Forbes, to which Laffer added: “With any type of change that we can make in the right direction … never let the best be the enemy of the good.”

Finally, I asked, “Is the free-market model losing ground?” We’ve seen its decline in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere.

“This thing always ebbs and flows,” said Laffer. “Reagan, at first, was dissed by all the foreign leaders, except for Thatcher. And once our success story came in, he’s now virtually a god. That’s going to happen again, believe me.”

The limits of this space have forced me to drastically abbreviate what I do believe was a historic radio event. Two economic giants met and discussed the big ideas that will restore growth and prosperity. They offered the “how” and were confident that the “when” is near.

To find out more about Lawrence Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Trump to Nominate Randal Quarles as Fed Bank Regulator

For the original WSJ link to this article, please click here.

Jay Davidson comments the article:  

Look for some major and positive changes to the banking environment.  Trump’s Federal Reserve nominee to vice chairman of supervision understands the cost of high capital ratios:

Mr. Quarles, in a March 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed that he co-wrote, said he didn’t support “arbitrarily taking an ax to big banks and irreparably damaging the economy.” He endorsed a review of postcrisis regulations but warned that “the consequence of a dramatic increase in bank capital is an increase in the cost of bank credit.”

 

He also understands the high cost of regulation:

The choice of Mr. Quarles “shows that we’re looking for a change to the heavy-handed approach to regulation from the prior administration,” the White House official said Monday. Mr. Quarles, the official said, “has a track record of working well with others to implement public policy.”Former Treasury official would be the first Fed vice chairman of supervision

Randal Quarles spoke in New York in 2008.

Randal Quarles spoke in New York in 2008. Photo: BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump plans to put his first mark on the Federal Reserve by nominating Randal Quarles, an investment-fund manager and former Republican Treasury official, to be the central bank’s top official in charge of regulating big banks.

The choice of Mr. Quarles, expected for months and confirmed by a White House official Monday, would put a more industry-friendly voice in perhaps the most powerful U.S. bank-regulatory post: Fed vice chair of supervision.

That job was created by Congress in 2010 and was never filled during the Obama administration, although former Fed governor Daniel Tarullo filled the role de facto. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Quarles would take a lead role in carrying out the Trump administration’s goal of rethinking many financial regulations adopted during the Obama era.

Mr. Quarles would also weigh in on monetary policy as one of seven members of the Fed’s board of governors, now short-staffed with only four members. His views in that sphere could put him at odds with his new colleagues, notably because he has criticized the Fed’s policy of keeping interest rates near zero for years following the financial crisis, and advocated for a monetary-policy rule, or formula, to guide rate decisions.

The Fed board has three vacancies, and the White House hopes to offer two more nominees as soon as possible, the official said. The administration has also begun the search for the next Fed chairman, though Mr. Trump hasn’t ruled out nominating Chairwoman Janet Yellen to a second term, to begin when her current term expires in February.

Mr. Quarles has donated to Republican candidates for years and served in the Treasury Department in both Bush administrations, working on both international affairs and as undersecretary for domestic finance, a senior job that involves coordination with the many U.S. agencies that oversee the financial sector.

He left the government in 2006 and was a managing director at the Carlyle Groupprivate-equity firm, investing in troubled banks. He is now managing director at Cynosure Group, a Utah investment firm.

Mr. Quarles, in a March 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed that he co-wrote, said he didn’t support “arbitrarily taking an ax to big banks and irreparably damaging the economy.” He endorsed a review of postcrisis regulations but warned that “the consequence of a dramatic increase in bank capital is an increase in the cost of bank credit.”

Analysts and government officials have said nominating Mr. Quarles, an establishment Republican, would be a sign that the White House favors more incremental rather than radical changes to the Fed, an institution that has long engendered mistrust among the economic nationalists who backed Mr. Trump during his campaign last year.

Mr. Trump’s team has advocated a rethink of Wall Street rules but has few officials in place at financial regulatory agencies. If confirmed, Mr. Quarles would immediately take over the job of overseeing the Fed’s regulatory staff, which supervises some of the largest U.S. financial firms including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.

He could push for changes in the way the Fed oversees those firms, but he couldn’t change the rules on his own. For that, he would need the support of other members of the Fed’s board and other agencies.

The choice of Mr. Quarles “shows that we’re looking for a change to the heavy-handed approach to regulation from the prior administration,” the White House official said Monday. Mr. Quarles, the official said, “has a track record of working well with others to implement public policy.”

Obama administration officials have said stricter curbs on financial risk-taking were warranted in the wake of the financial crisis.

Mr. Quarles would find some familiar faces at the Fed. He has worked before with Fed governor Jerome Powell, who is now the point person on the Fed’s regulatory efforts and also served in the George H.W. Bush administration and worked at Carlyle Group.

Mr. Quarles is married to Hope Eccles, who is a relative of Marriner Eccles, the New Deal-era Fed chairman whose name is on the building where Mr. Quarles would have his office.

Ms. Yellen is set to testify on Wednesday and Thursday on Capitol Hill, where she will likely be asked about Mr. Quarles and the Fed’s agenda. In the past, she has said she is open to changing some bank rules but not what she regards as core changes adopted after the 2008 financial bailouts.

Ms. Yellen has objected to proposals to require the Fed to use a mathematical monetary-policy rule, an approach popular among some conservatives who argue central banks have too much discretion and should be more accountable to the public.

Mr. Quarles said in the 2016 op-ed that low-interest-rate policies have “led to a rise in speculative positions” across the financial system and that a monetary-policy rule would reduce the incentive for big banks and smaller firms to take dangerous risks.

Mr. Quarles’s path to the nomination illustrates a broader trend in which nominees across the executive branch have faced delays completing the traditional background clearance and screening process.

Top White House officials had identified the vice chair post as a priority weeks after Mr. Trump’s election last year, and after an extended search process, officials identified Mr. Quarles as their top pick in April. At the time, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had indicated a nominee for the post was imminent.

The White House expected Mr. Quarles’s nomination to receive broad Republican support. He needs a simple majority to be approved by the Senate, where Republicans control 52 out of 100 seats.

The White House has also been considering economist Marvin Goodfriend to fill a second vacancy on the Fed board, according to people familiar with the matter. It isn’t clear when his nomination might be announced and submitted to the Senate.

The White House has been searching for a candidate with experience in small, locally focused community banks for the third opening, as a result of a law requiring that someone on the Fed board have experience in that industry.

But finding a nominee has been difficult in part because of federal ethics rules that require Fed officials to divest of their interest in financial firms. Once a regulatory nominee is selected, the process for security and ethics reviews has been taking about two months.

Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy@wsj.com, Kate Davidson at kate.davidson@wsj.comand Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 11, 2017, print edition as ‘Trump to Appoint Fed Bank Regulator.’

The last eight years are “the Recovery that Wasn’t” -Jay Davidson

For original link to this WSJ article go HERE.
Mr. Ip is usually better informed.  The last eight years are “the Recovery that Wasn’t.”  There is little inflation because supply and demand are not unbalanced.  The reason that supply and demand are balanced, and inflation is benign, is that economic activity is depressed: Business is not growing or expanding and private investors are not investing.
Lest we forget, as everyone seemed to during the Obama socialistic rampage, it is the private business and investor that is our economy; federal spending requires that the government first takes money from the private citizen, through taxation, before the government spends that taxed money.
The Fed Reserve and Mr. Ip would better serve the nation if they asked why business activity remains depressed.  For the answer, look to Fiscal Policy.  Until the Congress solves the regulatory excesses that befell private businesses during Obama’s Socialist/Communist experiment, there will not be any recovery.  Until Congress reduces federal spending and debt, there will be no business growth.  Until the Congress reduces the tax burden on businesses, investors and citizens, there is no recovery.  This is a Zombie Recovery until the nation as a whole embraces the concept of far less government. – Jay Davidson
Why Soaring Assets and Low Unemployment Mean It’s Time to Start Worrying – WSJ

Today’s conditions expose vulnerabilities that make a recession or market meltdown more likely

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, a veteran of past mayhem, needs to be on guard for a repeat.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, a veteran of past mayhem, needs to be on guard for a repeat. Photo: joshua roberts/Reuters

By

Greg Ip

If you drew up a list of preconditions for recession, it would include the following: a labor market at full strength, frothy asset prices, tightening central banks, and a pervasive sense of calm.

In other words, it would look a lot like the present.

Those of us who have lived through economic mayhem before feel our muscle memory twitch at times like this. Consider the worrisome absence of worry. “Implied volatility” measures the cost of hedging against big market moves via options. When fear is pervasive, options are expensive so implied volatility is high. At present, implied volatility in bonds, stocks, currencies and gold sits near its lowest since mid-2007, the eve of the financial crisis, according to a composite measure maintained by Variant Perception, a London-based investment advisory.

The economic expansion is now entering its ninth year and in two years will be the longest on record. The unemployment rate sits at 4.3%, the lowest in 16 years, suggesting the economy has reached, or nearly reached, full capacity.

Expansions don’t die of old age, economists like to say. On the other hand, should we really assume this one will be a record breaker? From a level this low, unemployment has more room to go up than down. Another ominous sign: Central banks are tightening monetary policy, which has preceded every recession. The Fed has raised rates three times since December and last week central banks in Britain, the eurozone and Canada all hinted that years of easy money were coming to an end.

Still, the presence of recession preconditions isn’t enough to say one is imminent. To understand implied volatility, think of hurricane insurance. Right after a storm, homeowners are more anxious to have coverage, even as insurers withdraw, which of course means premiums spike. As years go by without another hurricane, homeowners let their coverage lapse, insurers return and premiums drop. Similarly, implied volatility is low today because years without a financial calamity have sapped demand for hedging while enticing sellers with the prospect of steady income in exchange for potentially huge losses. But just as hurricane premiums don’t predict the next hurricane, low implied volatility tells us nothing about whether or when a downdraft will actually come.

Similarly, when unemployment got nearly this low in 1989 and again in 2006, a recession was about a year away; but in 1998, it was three years away, and in 1965, four years. A narrowing spread between short-term interest rates and long-term rates comparable to the present has happened 12 times since 1962, and only five times did recession follow within two years.

But if today’s conditions don’t dictate a recession or a market meltdown, they expose vulnerabilities that make either more likely in the face of some catalyzing event.

When ​growth is steady and interest rates are low for years, investors and businesses behave as if those conditions will last forever. That’s why even with muted economic growth, stocks are trading at a historically high 22 times the past year’s earnings. It’s also why home prices have returned to their pre-crisis peaks in major American cities. Real estate has scaled even greater heights in Australia, Canada and parts of China, which exhibit some of the same lax lending and wishful thinking that underlay the U.S. housing bubble a decade ago.

Companies meanwhile have responded to slow, stable growth and low rates by borrowing heavily, often to buy back stock or pay dividends. Corporate debt as a share of economic output is at levels last seen just before the past two recessions.

When everyone acts as if steady growth and low volatility will last forever, it guarantees they won’t. Once asset prices fall, the flow of credit that sustained them dries up, aggravating the correction. Corporate leverage is at levels that in the past led to weakening corporate bond prices and greater equity volatility, says Jonathan Tepper, founder of Variant. “A high proportion of companies won’t be able to pay back debt.” A selloff in corporate bonds and stocks could become self-reinforcing as those who insured against such a move sell into it to limit their own losses.

Of course, some things are different this time. The postcrisis regulatory crackdown means if asset prices fall, they probably won’t take banks down with them. Last week Janet Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, said she thought there wouldn’t be another financial crisis “in our lifetimes.” Fair enough: crises as catastrophic as the last happen twice a century. But small crises are inevitable as risk migrates to financial players who haven’t drawn the attention of regulators. “Elevated asset valuation pressures today may be indicative of rising vulnerabilities tomorrow,” Fed vice chairman Stanley Fischer warned last week.

Inflation is uncomfortably low rather than too high as in previous cycles, which makes it less likely central banks will have to raise interest rates sharply or rapidly. But in a world with permanently lower inflation and growth, businesses will struggle to earn their way out of debt, and interest rates will bite at lower levels than before. This confronts the Fed with a dilemma. If bond yields remain around 2% to 2.5%, the Fed may be playing with fire by pushing rates to 3%, as planned. If it backs off those plans, it could egg on excesses that make any reversal more violent.

Ms. Yellen and Mr. Fischer, both veterans of past mayhem, need to be on guard for a repeat. So should everyone else.

Could Trump Really Be Draining the Swamp? Dumb..like a fox – WSJ

Could Trump Really Be Draining the Swamp?

Original post on WSJ site can be found HERE>.

The water appears to be receding at key Beltway bureaucracies.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Friday.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Friday. Photo: brendan smialowski/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

By

James Freeman

The Senate still hasn’t voted on ObamaCare reform, U.S. workers are still waiting for tax cuts to drive economic growth and President of the United States Donald Trump is trading insults with the co-hosts of an MSNBC talk show. Yet Mr. Trump appears to be making progress in what might have seemed the most difficult task given to him by voters in 2016: reducing the power of Washington’s permanent bureaucracy.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wasn’t exactly dying to move to Washington to run a federal department, but he seems to have warmed to the task. Max Bergmann, a former Obama Administration official now at the leftist Center for American Progress, writes inPolitico that the “deconstruction of the State Department is well underway.” Discounting for the usual Beltway hyperbole, this probably isn’t as good as it sounds.

All kidding aside, the State Department is one federal agency that was actually contemplated by America’s founders. Conducting foreign policy is an important and necessary task for our central government. But like so much of the Beltway bureaucracy State has been overfunded and undermanaged for years. Now, despite what you may have read about untouchable bureaucrats unaccountable to the public they are supposed to serve, Mr. Tillerson has found ways to clean house, at least according to Mr. Bergmann:

As I walked through the halls once stalked by diplomatic giants like Dean Acheson and James Baker, the deconstruction was literally visible. Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights.

The former Obama appointee is apparently so unnerved by the Trump-Tillerson era at State that he lets slip the fact that the career staff didn’t think much of the previous management either, and that the conservative critique of the department is at least partly true:

When Rex Tillerson was announced as secretary of state, there was a general feeling of excitement and relief in the department. After eight years of high-profile, jet-setting secretaries, the building was genuinely looking forward to having someone experienced in corporate management. Like all large, sprawling organizations, the State Department’s structure is in perpetual need of an organizational rethink. That was what was hoped for, but that is not what is happening. Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.

Do taxpayers dare to dream? As odd as this sounds for regular observers of the federal leviathan, the new boss seems to be imposing the kind of tough measures often seen at struggling companies, but almost never witnessed at government departments that have lost their way:

While the lack of senior political appointees has gotten a lot of attention, less attention has been paid to the hollowing out of the career workforce, who actually run the department day to day. Tillerson has canceled the incoming class of foreign service officers. This as if the Navy told all of its incoming Naval Academy officers they weren’t needed. Senior officers have been unceremoniously pushed out. Many saw the writing on the wall and just retired, and many others are now awaiting buyout offers. He has dismissed State’s equivalent of an officer reserve—retired FSOs, who are often called upon to fill State’s many short-term staffing gaps, have been sent home despite no one to replace them. Office managers are now told three people must depart before they can make one hire.

Perhaps the Tillerson method could work at other agencies too. Mr. Bergmann for his part seems to be disappointed that the un-elected career staff has not been able to impose its will on the duly-elected political leadership:

At the root of the problem is the inherent distrust of the State Department and career officers. I can sympathize with this—I, too, was once a naive political appointee, like many of the Trump people. During the 2000s, when I was in my 20s, I couldn’t imagine anyone working for George W. Bush. I often interpreted every action from the Bush administration in the most nefarious way possible. Almost immediately after entering government, I realized how foolish I had been.

For most of Foggy Bottom, the politics of Washington might as well have been the politics of Timbuktu—a distant concern, with little relevance to most people’s work.

Here’s to making the will of voters more than just a distant concern– and highly relevant to the work of federal agencies.

Meanwhile over at the Environmental Protection Agency, new boss Scott Pruitt is not just draining the bureaucratic swamp in Washington, he’s taking away the agency’s power to oversee swamps nationwide. The Journal reported on Tuesday:

President Donald Trump’s administration is moving ahead with plans to dismantle another piece of the Obama administration’s environmental legacy, the rule that sought to protect clean drinking water by expanding Washington’s power to regulate major rivers and lakes as well as smaller streams and wetlands.

And now the Journal reports:

President Donald Trump declared a new age of “energy dominance” by the U.S. on Thursday as he outlined plans to roll back Obama era restrictions and regulations meant to protect the environment.

In a speech at the Energy Department, the president promised to expand the country’s nuclear-energy sector and open up more federal lands and offshore sites to oil and natural-gas drilling.

Mr. Trump also celebrated his decision earlier this month to withdraw the U.S. from the 195-country Paris climate accord and the Environmental Protection Agency’s rescindment this week of the Obama administration’s clean-water rules that farmers and business groups found onerous.

“We don’t want to let other countries take away our sovereignty and tell us what to do and how to do it,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump also issued a special permit authorizing the construction of a new pipeline between the U.S. and Mexico that would carry fuels across the border in Texas, the State Department said.

If Mr. Trump can finally reform the Washington bureaucracy and make the will of voters its primary concern, voters may decide he can tweet whatever he wants.