While Donald Trump has done a lot of terrible things as president, he has celebrated the elimination regulatory policies as one of the biggest triumphs of his first year in office. Yes, the erratic president believes that leaving the American people at the mercy of greedy corporations is somehow good for the country.
Trump has wielded his presidential power as a ruthless authoritarian to shape scores of federal rules and reverse Obama-era policies aimed to protect the public, on everything from net neutrality to campus sexual assault.
Here are some of the Trump administration’s most draconian deregulatory actions in 2017:
Worked to eliminate the Clean Power Plan
In October, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would eliminate the centerpiece of Obama’s climate-change strategy. In 2015, the Obama administration finalized the Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce power-sector emissions by 32 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels. The plan required states to hit certain emissions targets in order to cut greenhouse gases, reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and boosting clean-energy sources. EPA chief Scott Pruitt said that repealing the measure meant that “the war against coal is over.”
Killed net neutrality
In mid-December, the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines to eliminate rules requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all internet traffic equally. The Obama-era rules prohibited ISPs from blocking or slowing down access to specific websites, or charging more for paid “fast lanes.”
Delayed a methane rule
Trump’s Interior Department delayed a rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federal lands, pushing back implementation until 2019. The Obama rule had aimed to cut down on leaks, and the venting and flaring of methane gas, which has increased with the rise of hydraulic fracturing. Methane makes up 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and is a more powerful pollutant than carbon dioxide.
Federal courts had blocked Trump’s earlier attempt to stop the methane rule. But the administration has continued to persist in its efforts to halt the measure to please the fossil-fuel industry.
Revoked guidance on campus sexual assault
In September, the Education Department rescinded Obama’s guidelines for addressing sexual assault on college campuses under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination by sex in any federally funded education program. Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, said that standard was unfair.
“Schools have been compelled by Washington to enforce ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment,” she said in September, adding that “if everything is harassment, then nothing is.”
Used Congress to overturn Obama-era rules
With the Trump administration’s support, the Republican-controlled Congress killed more than a dozen Obama-era regulations by using an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act.
The White House and Congress used the act to nullify rules that Obama imposed in the last days of his administration: They overturned new limits on gun sales to those with severe mental illness; undid requirements for employers to keep records on workplace injuries and illnesses for five years; and repealed restrictions on internet service providers’ ability to use and sell personal data, including web-browsing history, among other regulatory changes.
Trump and Congress used the same tool to kill a new regulation that would have made it easier for consumers to band together in class-action lawsuits against financial firms, restricting the use of forced arbitration clauses.
Passed massive Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy while eliminating social programs for the poor.
Just before Christmas, Republicans rammed through a tax cut that adds more than a trillion dollars to federal debt while undermining health care for millions. They did so by violating all previous norms for major legislation, having held not a single hearing and rushed to a vote before the new senator from Alabama could be seated.
This bill isn’t just madness; it’s politics that goes beyond criminal.
The unpopular tax bill continues the GOP’s war on financially vulnerable Americans, underscoring yet again that Republicans will stop at nothing to take away benefits from the poor in order to give more to the rich.
“By taking away medical deductions from personal income taxes, the Republican proposal would hurt older citizens with greater medical needs, people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions, and families with children who have congenital or genetic disorders and disabilities,” said a fact sheet from Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), the top Democrat on the Senate Special Committee.
The real-life implications of ending this deduction would be nightmarish for people with disabilities, seniors facing mounting chronic conditions, their families, and caregivers.
The question is, why are they doing this?
“The most disturbing, possible explanation for the behavior of Republican legislators is that they’re supporting legislation, knowing that it’s bad for both the country and their party because it’s good for them personally,” says economist Paul Krugman.
Some Republicans have been quite open in saying that they felt compelled to push forward on corporate tax cuts to please their donors. But I’m talking about more than campaign finance; I’m talking about personal payoffs.