While You Weren't Looking: Trump flew these 4 bits of policy way under the radar this week


This week, the White House was consumed by a series of rolling scandals and crises that dominated the news cycle and the public psyche. But just because the administration was busy putting out fires doesn't mean it wasn't quietly enforcing the White House agenda at the same time. 

Here are the policy stories you may have missed:

Killing off a groundbreaking retirement plan

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In order to address the growing number of low wage workers who are unable to save for retirement, the state of California created a new program that automatically enrolled employees without retirement plans in a state-run fund. 

But Wall Street, specifically the mutual fund industry, hated the idea that the state of California was getting into the 401k game and pressured Congress to pass a resolution effectively blocking the plan. Trump signed that resolution on Wednesday, killing the nation's most innovative experiment in helping poor and working class people build retirement savings.

Slashing education funding

Evan Vucci/AP

This week the Washington Post got a glimpse of the Trump administration's first full education budget, and the takeaway was that public education funding is about to get cut dramatically. 

The budget slashes $10.6 billion in funding from things like work-study programs and mental health services. It also ends student loan forgiveness for public service, a program that has helped many college graduates deal with crushing student debt.

Instead, the new budget invests heavily in controversial school choice programs, a pet project of education secretary Betsy DeVos.

Taking steps to end net neutrality

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

This week the Federal Communications Commission took the first step toward ending net neutrality, a devastating loss for internet freedom advocates. 

Under the Obama administration, the FCC essentially treated internet service providers like utility companies, regulating them so that they couldn't prioritize certain internet content or provide faster connection speeds to websites and companies that pay extra.

The FCC will take public comments for 90 days before finalizing their new rule change.  When the Obama administration first considered net neutrality rules, the public comment period was crucial for net neutrality activists to pressure the FCC. But now the commissioners appear less open to letting the public change their minds on the issue. 

"Thankfully, our rulemaking proceeding is not decided like a Dancing With the Stars contest, since counts of comments submitted have only so much value," said Republican commissioner Mike O'Rielly. All this means that we could see the end of net neutrality in just a few months.

Delaying greenhouse gas measurements 

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This week the Trump administration delayed the implementation of a key Obama-era climate change policy designed to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. 

The Federal Highway Administration was set to start requiring state and local governments to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on certain highways as part of a program to establish new performance standards for highway funding.

But the Trump administration put off part of the new rule this week, saying it needs more time to review the policy.