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Your Wish is My Command

Corporate Capture of the Regulatory Process Evident in Trump’s First Two Years

By Amit Narang & Matt Kent

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President Donald Trump’s administration has enabled unprecedented corporate capture of federal regulatory agencies. Instead of protecting the public, agencies have rolled back a multitude of health, safety, environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate special interests.

This report documents how a big business group’s deregulatory wish list turned into the Trump administration’s deregulatory playbook. Deregulation is often more than simply eliminating government rules and safeguards. In a complex regulatory system, deregulation is more nuanced – and the deregulatory actions that are most beneficial to industry are not always the most clear cut. This report documents the full range of actions taken by federal agencies that were directly responsive to the wishes of corporate special interests.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), an influential industry trade association, sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that concerned NAM members and detailed NAM’s preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations. Public Citizen compared the NAM wish list to actions the administration has taken. The results are clear: in two short years, the Trump administration has acted on the overwhelming majority of NAM’s wishes through deregulatory actions taken by federal agencies.

Public Citizen’s analysis found that the Trump administration has been responsive in implementing 85 percent of the items on NAM’s wish list that involved rulemaking, and overall, has been responsive in implementing 64 percent of all the items on NAM’s wish list. NAM targeted many of the most important regulations that protect consumers, workers, and the environment such as the EPA Clean Power Plan and Clean Water rule, the FCC Net Neutrality Rule, and the NLRB Joint Employer Standard. As the report details, the Trump administration has done NAM’s bidding at the expense of protecting the public.

While this study focuses on the administration’s high degree of responsiveness to the NAM wish list, NAM is hardly the only big business trade association to have called for deregulation that benefits its corporate members. Other multi-industry trade associations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and industry specific trade associations have made similar requests for deregulatory actions that overlap with the NAM wish list. Indeed, NAM’s wish list is reflective of the broader corporate deregulatory agenda.

This report shows that the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda has been anything but the populist agenda that Trump claimed on the campaign trail. In fact, Trump’s deregulatory agenda has been nothing but a corporatist agenda where big business lobby groups like NAM are both the source and beneficiary of regulatory roll backs that hurt consumers, workers and the environment. This report shows that under Trump, our government is working for corporate special interests, not hardworking Americans and their families.

Download the full report here.