Though his presidential campaign launch was overshadowed by technical glitches Wednesday evening, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) laid out a sprawling vision for transforming the federal government and gutting the administrative state.
DeSantis described a plan to vastly expand the role of America’s chief executive and tried to distinguish himself from former President Trump by painting himself as a results-oriented leader who cares more about delivering for his constituents than public fanfare and adulation.
“Even my worst critics in Florida will acknowledge when I tell people I’m going to do something, I don’t make promises or say I’m going to do something lightly,” DeSantis said, when asked during the launch how voters can know that he will keep his promise.
In his campaign announcement, DeSantis said his administration would make major reforms to public health, immigration, education, and Bitcoin.
“There’s a lot that the executive branch can do, and all I will say when it comes to these agencies… [is] buckle up when I get in there because the status quo is not acceptable, and we are going to make sure that we reconstitutionalize this government, and these agencies are totally out of control. There’s no accountability, and we are going to bring that in a very big way.”
Here’s what DeSantis said about the changes he would undertake across the federal government.
DeSantis took aim at President Biden’s Covid-19 policies and said the health agencies that carried out his agency “need to be cleaned out,” calling for “a major, major overhaul of the whole enchilada with respect to public health in this country.”
DeSantis has long touted his response to the pandemic as a national model for balancing economic interests with public health. However, Trump has argued that DeSantis was no better than some Democratic governors in terms of how quickly he shut down swaths of Florida’s economy.
First we need an honest reckoning about what happened during COVID and the only honest reckoning is that all of those agencies, all of the elites, the public health establishment, they failed. They instituted bad policies. Obviously it’s a novel virus, but I think what happened was when the data was becoming more and more apparent that the path they were on was wrong, they doubled down and wanted to do it even more and I really believe had Florida not just kind of stood in the way, I think this country would have had rolling lockdowns for probably a two-year period. And so their impulses were authoritarian, they were not following the data and I think the U.S government needs to acknowledge the failures, and I think all of those agencies need to be cleaned out. What I saw, just dealing with them, was I saw a interest in the narrative and in politics over evidence-based reasoning and evidence-based medicine, and so I don’t have confidence that those agencies are up to the task and I think you need major, major overhaul of the whole enchilada with respect to Public Health in this country.
DeSantis devoted a significant share of his time to discussing migration at the Southern border and touting his own policies in Florida. He pledged to declare a national emergency on his first day, to reverse Biden policies, build a wall, and reinstate Trump’s “Remain in Mexico policy.”
DeSantis has drew the ire of Democrats and immigrant advocates last year when he arranged for two jets of migrants to be flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
I’d reverse what Biden’s doing. You need to shut the border down, you should not be entertaining these asylum claims for people crossing illegally. Now asylum is a legitimate thing, but these are people that, when they come, I mean they’re being persecuted, these people come in overwhelmingly are economic migrants that are coming across many other different countries. They should be applying for asylum there if they were truly qualifying for that, but they’re not. They know that if they just show up at the Southern border — and these are people all over the world uh that are coming illegally — they know that they will get a sheet of paper saying, ‘okay come back for a court date in three years.’ And they get released to the interior of our country. It’s an absolutely insane system, so we’ll stop that. We will move on day one by declaring a national emergency, we will construct a border wall, we will make sure we have remain in Mexico, and that we’re not entertaining those claims in that way, and we really need to hold the Mexican drug cartels accountable because they’re facilitating a lot of this migration…
DeSantis touted his own policies in Florida, pushing back on accusations that he supports “book bans,” instead saying that his policies empowered parents to have a say in what books were appropriate for their children. He also defended a bill banning the teaching of critical race theory, which has infuriated groups including the NAACP.
On a federal level, DeSantis pledged to get rid of accreditation programs for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With control of the Department of Education, DeSantis said he would offer “alternative accreditation regimes” that would be “colorblind” and not offer them to schools who participate or offer DEI initiatives.
There are some tools at the federal level that we don’t necessarily have at the state level for example some of the problems with the university and the ideological capture that didn’t happen by accident. It can trace back all the way to the accreditation cartels. Well guess what? To become an accreditor how do you do that? You got to get approved by the U.S Department of Education, so we’re going to be doing alternative accreditation regimes where instead of saying, “You will only get accredited if you do DEI,” you’ll have an accreditor that will say, “We will not accredit you if you do DEI.” We want a colorblind merit-based accreditation scheme and so as president controlling that agency you can then approve other types of accreditation.
So I think part of it is just knowing where are all the pressure points, how does it get to the point that we then see, and that somebody like you will run a report on, like when you see some of the outrageous stuff that’s generated in some sociology department at a university. That didn’t just happen out of thin air. There’s a reason why we got to that point, and I think that there are some tools with the federal government where you can push back and try to get these institutions moored in a more foundational direction about, “hey, we’re pursuing truth here, and we’re not here to try to impose one niche ideology on the entire student body.”
DeSantis pledged not to interfere with bitcoin if he’s president, saying, “I just do not have an itch to have to control everything that people may be doing in this space.” Twitter owner Elon Musk, who was part of the discussion Wednesday evening, has been a major backed of cryptocurrencies.
The Florida governor said attempts to interfere with bitcoin was another example of bureaucratic overreach. He said while he thinks it might be constitutional for Congress to pass a law banning bitcoin, he would not support it.
You have every right to do Bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is because they don’t control it, and they’re central planners and they want to have control over society, and so Bitcoin represents a threat to them. And so, as you’re saying, they’re trying to regulate it out of existence. Look, could Congress enact a statute to ban things like Bitcoin under the Constitution? They may be able to do it. I would oppose that. I think people should be able to do Bitcoin, but Congress has never addressed this in this fashion, and for the bureaucracy to just do it on their own and make it so people can’t operate in that space, that’s what we mean when we say we’ve got to return the government to the people’s elected representatives, who are our voice, to be able to make these decisions. And so as president, we’ll protect the ability to do things like Bitcoin. I think these are people that are sophisticated. They can make decisions. There’s risks involved with it, but let them do that. I just do not have an itch to have to control everything that people may be doing in this space, and I think that the current regime clearly, they have it out for Bitcoin, and if it continues for another four years, they’ll probably end up killing it.
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