President Donald Trump, his cabinet of billionaire robber barons and the corporate-backed Republican Congress are trying to plunder our nation’s wealth and resources by dismantling public protections, rigging the rules for their own personal benefit, and preying on American workers, consumers and families.
Atop their wish list is a rollback of the regulatory protections established during the last administration. These safeguards protect all of us from corporate privateers, pickpockets, polluters and predators – the same people running the Trump administration and bankrolling Republicans in Congress. Demolishing public protections is a giveaway to these corporate interests that directly endangers the American people.
Among the powerful tools at their disposal: the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a holdover from Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.
The CRA allows Congress — by majority vote in both chambers, with limited debate and no possibility of a filibuster — to override recently issued rules so long as the president does not veto their actions. The result: Americans could lose dozens of health, safety, pocketbook and environmental protections.
Making matters worse, the CRA blocks agencies from issuing “substantially similar” rules without express authorization from Congress. Once protections are repealed under the CRA, we won’t get them back any time soon.
At least 50 major public protections, and hundreds of others, are in immediate danger. Congress has 60 legislative working days to torpedo them. In practical terms, Congress will have until sometime in June to undo Obama administration rules finalized after June 13, 2016. Protections at risk of repeal include:
- Restrictions on predatory payday lenders;
- Online privacy and personal data protections for consumers;
- Requirements that prepaid cards clearly disclose all fees and do not rip off cardholders;
- Limits on the number of robocalls and texts that can be made by debt collectors;
- Protections for nursing home residents that ban rip-off clauses in their contracts;
- Debt relief for students defrauded by their schools and a ban on rip-off clauses hidden in contracts with for-profit schools;
- Updated nutrition labels, which include a new line showing added sugars;
- Improved energy efficiency standards for refrigerators, furnaces and trucks;
- Limits on dangerous methane pollution from oil and gas operations;
- Measures to limit the impacts of oil and gas operations on national wildlife refuges;
- Non-discrimination rules for federally funded health programs and homeless shelters;
- Rules requiring federal contractors to disclose labor law violations and provide employees with paid sick leave; and
- An anti-corruption rule requiring corporations report payments to foreign governments.
If these protections are eliminated under the CRA, it will be extremely difficult to restore them. In the meantime, the robber barons in the Trump administration, the greedy corporations bankrolling Republican campaigns and other bad actors will be free to abuse, exploit and discriminate against regular Americans with impunity, knowing they won’t be held accountable.
This represents a fundamental betrayal of candidate Trump’s promises to drain the swamp, rein in Wall Street and defend the middle class. In many cases, Trump’s own base of supporters are among those with the most to lose if these public protections are repealed.
Payday lenders, debt collectors, and prepaid credit card companies will be able to scam and rip off the people who put Trump in office. Polluters will be able to dump in their backyards and poison the wells near their homes. Trump’s supporters will pay more out of pocket for home appliances, trucks and electricity bills.
This is what it means to roll back public protections. The resulting pain and suffering will be real and widespread.
It’s important to remember that CRA resolutions are just one front in the GOP’s war on public protections. They are being accompanied by a wave of executive orders, legislative repeal packages and deregulatory measures that unleash big corporations to prey on ordinary Americans.