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Trump’s Corporate Con Job

Six Months Into Term, Trump Has Fully Abandoned Populism in Favor of Giveaways to Industry

By Taylor Lincoln, Rick Claypool, Mike Tanglis, and Alan Zibel

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As a candidate, Donald Trump directed nearly as much venom toward major U.S. corporations as toward his opponents.

Trump savaged Wall Street, saying: “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs: They have total, totalcontrol over [Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz]. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.” Trump badgered companies for manufacturing products outside of the United States and threatened them with onerous penalties if they did not reverse course. He promised to let the federal government negotiate prices on prescription drugs purchased through Medicare, later accusing the pharmaceutical industry of “getting away with murder.” Trump singled outlobbyists who do the bidding for corporations in promising to “drain the swamp.”

Six months after his inauguration, Trump’s anti-industry bluster has largely dissipated. Trump immediately backtracked on his promised to crack down on lobbyists, choosing to staff much of his administration with them. Likewise, Trump turned to Goldman Sachs, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, OneWest Bank and numerous corporate law firms to fill key posts.

In this report, we look at 11 key sectors in which the Trump administration is helping big corporations advance their agenda.

This list is not comprehensive, but illustrative of the corporate giveaways now coming to pass. They are:

  • Autos: In March 2017, at the behest of the automakers, Trump announced his administration would postpone a decision on whether to enact previously planned increases to fuel efficiency standards, which would raise the average vehicle’s official gas mileage to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
  • Chemicals: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has overturned staff experts’ recommendation to bar a dangerous insecticide and watered down a key bipartisan toxic substances law.
  • Defense: After criticizing Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Boeing Co.’s plans for a new Air ForceOne as expensive examples of government waste, Trump proposed a budget plan that would enrich those same contractors with a glaring increase to military spending of $54 billion.
  • Education: Trump’s Department of Education has targeted for elimination rules established during the Obama administration that protect students from predatory private colleges and predatory student lenders.
  • Energy: The Trump administration is delaying, weakening or repealing numerous clean air rules or policies that benefit public health and the Earth’s climate and are favoring dirty fossil fuel-based polluters over the fast-growing and clean renewable energy sector.
  • Financial Services: With bankers and bank industry lawyers now controlling policy and regulation, Trump has begun dismantling the guardrails that are meant to protect the public from Wall Street.
  • Food: Since the election, Trump has catered to corporate food producers and agribusiness’ demands at the expense of food safety and children’s nutrition.
  • Pharmaceuticals: After casting himself as an opponent of pharmaceutical industry greed, Trump has fully caved into the industry, and is working reduce patient protections and strengthen the industry’s monopoly power.
  • Prisons: Trump’s extreme anti-immigration rhetoric on the campaign trail was music to the ears of the for-profit prison industry, which now has been rewarded with policies that would increase the number of incarcerated people and permit for-profit companies to house federal prisoners.
  • Telecom: Trump signed legislation that permitted industry to sell consumers private internet browsing data and his FCC has proposed ending “net neutrality” protections approved in 2015 that bar internet providers from blocking or slowing internet traffic, a measure taken to prevent larger Internet providers from steering customers to their own sites.
  • Wealthy People: In his campaign, Trump promised to significantly reduce taxes on lower- and middle-income Americans, and to ask the wealthy to pay more. But an initial tax released by Trump and his economic advisers would deliver massive benefits to the wealthy.