But Pruitt won’t be able to get what he wants out of a denuded agency, either. A tiny budget will unleash internal disorder that could last for years. A smaller staff of EPA bureaucrats may struggle to process four or five major rule changes at once, like writing a replacement Waters of the United States rule while issuing a replacement Clean Power Plan (or justifying the lack of one). Other work simply can’t be avoided: Even though Trump rescinded car fuel-efficiency requirements last week, the EPA and Department of Transportation must re-issue new and final versions by 2020.

This is what ran through my head as I thought of Pruitt going back to ask for a $7-billion budget—and promptly getting rebuffed. Trump may be fine with superficially damaging the administrative state until fiscal year 2022. But if Pruitt wants to permanently hinder it, he needs money.