Outgoing Trott talks regulatory rollbacks, environment and more at government forecast

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 5, 2018

 State Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, was among the crowd at the Townsend Hotel March 2 to hear U.S. Rep. David Trott, R-Birmingham, speak at the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber’s Government Forecast.

State Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, was among the crowd at the Townsend Hotel March 2 to hear U.S. Rep. David Trott, R-Birmingham, speak at the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber’s Government Forecast.

Photo by Deb Jacques

BIRMINGHAM — During the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce’s annual Government Forecast March 2, retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, said there’s “good news and bad news” coming out of Washington.

And he was more than frank about all of it with the crowd gathered to hear him speak at the Townsend Hotel that morning. As he said, “When you announce you’re not running again, you can say this kind of stuff.”

First elected to the seat in 2014 and then again in 2016, Trott preceded Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in the seat to represent District 11. He announced last fall that he won’t seek another term, citing in a prepared statement a desire to spend more time with family and to return to the private sector.

Trott, while candid during his analysis of what’s happening in Washington, easily shared credit for accomplishments with delegates on both sides of the aisle.

“There’s more collaboration than you might think,” Trott said of the work being done in Washington.

Much of the unity between Democrats and Republicans lies in issues that pertain to the state’s natural resources, he said. Protecting the Soo Locks is one effort, as is figuring out how to protect the Great Lakes from the invasion of Asian carp, which Trott noted may be a bit late coming. Safeguarding Michigan’s Great Lakes basin land from nuclear waste dumping by Canada is another issue everyone seems to be behind, he said.

“One big win we had last Congress was Mick Mulvaney, the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, in his budget — and the president signed off on this — the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is funded to the tune of $300 million a year (and) has made a big difference for our Great Lakes, was zeroed out,” Trott said. “I want to find some bridge in South Carolina that’s important to Mick Mulvaney and zero that out and see what he says about that. But we were able to get it restored — again, the budget now that’s proposed is zeroing it out again for the next fiscal year. The Michigan delegation, I suspect, you will see completely unified across party lines all voting against that budget if it is zeroed out.”

Trott said he’s proud of the current state of affairs in the United States, with the lowest unemployment numbers recorded in 50 years; more than 20 regulatory rollbacks on environmental protections, health care reforms and financial service reforms, all aimed at aiding businesses; and increased funding for the military in a day when China, Russia and North Korea have all expressed hostility toward the U.S. But there’s still more work to do.

“We’re not going to make any progress on (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which is reprehensible, in my opinion. We’re just kicking the can down the road,” he said. “And until we start having those difficult discussions about entitlement reform, we won’t make any progress on the deficit. Unless we take on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we won’t make any progress on the deficit.”

But it was criticism against President Donald Trump that might’ve been unexpected.

“I’ve said Donald Trump wasn’t my first choice for president, or even my 12th choice,” said Trott. “But he’s a lot of noise. At one point, there were 51 tweets in one day. How are you going to get anything else done?”

He also questioned the president’s choices in staffing the White House, particularly with daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“Trust me, I understand nepotism. I joined a firm named Trott & Trott. But you don’t need to put family in those positions,” he said.

Controversial partisan issues like the infamous border wall with Mexico and gun regulation reform weren’t off-limits at the event, either. Trott likened the wall to more of a symbol of a need for immigration reform, but not necessarily the best use of $25 billion — a number he conceded that Mexico likely wouldn’t pay for.

And just as news was breaking outside the Townsend’s walls of another school shooting, this time at Central Michigan University, Trott said he knows why Second Amendment advocates are so passionate about protecting their rights as gun owners. But he added that he supports taking another look at that amendment for the sake of public safety.

“The (National Rifle Association) supported me in my election. Now, in a $3 million campaign, a $5,000 contribution isn’t particularly powerful. But if you don’t support (an NRA agenda) as a Republican, they might not give you that $5,000, but they will spend $1 million to take you out. That’s the secret no one wants to talk about,” he said.

He discussed support for improving national database updates for gun sales, saying it should be “every bit as solid as the TSA database.” He added that improved database information and slightly longer waiting periods for firearm permits would allow law enforcement to better monitor illicit sellers. Finally, he suggested that Washington should take a hard look at the ability for those under the age of 18 to purchase an AR-15 rifle.

“I get that hunters say that can be a fun thing to do. But what if I liked driving 200 mph? That doesn’t mean I get to do it on Woodward Avenue,” he said. “Sometimes our freedoms can exacerbate some problems. The Constitution has been around a long time, and I think some things can be revisited.”

Birmingham City Manager Joe Valentine said Trott’s insights were an interesting view behind the curtain of politics.

“It’s always nice to get an inside perspective on the issues in Washington and the dynamics at play,” Valentine said in an email. “As Congressman Trott noted, there is good news and there is some bad news, but it was nice to hear it all.”

Linda Hatfield, the vice president of marketing for the Birmingham Bloomfield Credit Union and a member of the chamber’s board of directors and executive committee, also trudged through the snow to hear Trott’s comments.

“I went in with an open mind and was pleased how candid he was in this conversation,” she said, naming gun control, immigration and Great Lakes environmental issues as her areas of interest. “The discussion was relevant, and he engaged the audience.”

Trott’s seat will be filled during the midterm elections this November.