Dishwasher Populism: Trump Rolls Back Water-Use Rules
(AP Foto/Andrew Harnik)
Dishwasher Populism: Trump Rolls Back Water-Use Rules
(AP Foto/Andrew Harnik)
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In the final weeks of the campaign, President Trump has again promised to make dishwashers great again.  

“I called up a great dishwasher company from Ohio -- that we saved, by the way. I said, ‘What's the problem with your dishwasher?’” the president told a Nevada crowd on Sunday. “‘Well, they don't give us any water. ... It'd be nice to be able to get enough water.’”

Trump: “I said, how much you need? ... Would you like more?”

Unnamed dishwasher executive: “‘Well, I'd love more.’”

“I'll give you more. You’ll have so much water you don't know what to do with it, right?” Trump said in concluding the related conversation. “So we gave them what they need. And now the dishwashers are incredible. They work beautifully.”

It wasn’t a new complaint. Trump complained in January that environmental efficiency rules imposed by the Obama administration were forcing people to wash their plates “the old-fashioned way.”

Nine months later, the president who does not do his own dishes has delivered on his dishwasher promise. The Department of Energy, RealClearPolitics has learned, will soon define a new class of dishwashers that allow for a normal wash cycle "of less than one hour,” thanks to greater use of water.

“President Trump has once again made good on his promise to free Americans from ludicrous government regulations — this time bringing a common-sense reform to dishwashers,” Russ Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told RCP in a statement.

“Dishes now washed in an hour or less!” Vought added. “This is yet another example of President Trump’s promises made, promises kept on deregulation.”

Data on dishwasher cycle times, compiled by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, shows that the average wash time had risen from just under an hour to nearly three hours by 2018 – with the increase in time due to diminished water use in cleaning cycles. Trump is in this way turning back the clock.

Why now? Polls show that the economy, and the pandemic that has crippled its growth and killed more than 200,000 Americans, weighs heaviest on the mind of voters. Dishwashers are not a close second or third or tenth. But Trump may have offered an explanation back in January for his thinking.

“It’s inelegant to talk about it, right? Right?” he said two months before the first lockdown. “Isn’t it inelegant? I’m talking about dishwashers.”

Perhaps so, but talking about dishwashers may be the true kitchen-table issue for voters deeply concerned about them.

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