Behind the Rhetoric of Trump’s Congressional Address

Feb. 27, 2017

MEDIA AVAILABILITY

Behind the Rhetoric of Trump’s Congressional Address

President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night to lay out his administration’s agenda, which is sure to advance policies that boost corporate bottom lines at the expense of everyday Americans.

Every day throughout his first month in office, Trump took a corporate-friendly action (see our video if you missed it) – from nominating billionaires and Wall Street executives to his Cabinet, to having his top adviser hawking his daughter’s products live on TV from the White House, to signing executive orders designed to eradicate health, safety and environmental protections. So far, Congress has fallen in line behind Trump, approving his Cabinet nominees and advancing legislation that takes critical safeguards off the books for good.

Public Citizen experts are available to translate what Trump’s agenda will mean for the public interest. Below is information about a range of issues that Trump might touch upon in his speech. Please use the contact information listed to get in touch with our experts.

View all of Public Citizen’s Trump related work at: https://www.citizen.org/real-donald-trump. Visit www.CorporateCabinet.org where we expose the corporate ties, corrupting influences and conflicts in Trump’s billion dollar Cabinet.

TRUMP’S CORPORATE POLICIES AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Experts:
Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org
w. (202) 588-1000
c. (202) 360-1844

Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division
lgilbert@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5188
c. (551) 404-5200

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division
cholman@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5182
c. (202) 905-7413

One month into the Trump administration, it’s clear that there has been a wholesale corporate takeover of the government. A day-by-day review of the administration’s first month shows that virtually every day there has been a new, extraordinary grant of power to corporate interests and/or another development in Trump’s schemes to exploit the American presidency for personal financial gain. America has never seen anything like this, and it’s only the first month.

REGULATION

Experts:
Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org
w. (202) 588-1000
c. (202) 360-1844

Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division
lgilbert@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5188
c. (551) 404-5200

Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division
anarang@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5116
c. (202) 603-8683

Trump keeps repeating a number of thoroughly discredited claims that blame public protections for a variety of economic ills and allege that costs are in the trillions. The truth is that regulations are the safeguards that benefit consumers and small businesses, spur innovation and create jobs – and the benefits of regulation are as much as 12 times (PDF) the costs.

Trump has falsely claimed that regulations cost the economy $2 trillion a year and recently proclaimed he will cut regulations by 75-80 percent. This promise amounts to a commitment to enable corporations to endanger the public, rip-off consumers and trash the planet.

Deregulation is the one area where Trump and congressional Republicans are getting something done, to the detriment of Americans. In the first month of his presidency, Trump has issued several executive orders temporarily halting rulemaking, imposing an arbitrary requirement that for every new rule promulgated, two must be cut, and installing deregulatory henchmen in agencies throughout the government. Public Citizen is suing the administration to block the one-in-two-out rule.

Meanwhile, using the Congressional Review Act, Trump and Republicans in Congress are busy striking down dozens of public protections established in the last six months of the Obama administration. They already have wiped out two rules, as apparent payback to the corporate donors that funded their campaigns. One would have stopped big oil companies from bribing governments at the expense of nearby communities. The other would have protected our streams and rivers from coal and mining companies intent on dumping toxic chemicals into our irrigation and drinking water. On Wednesday, House Republicans are targeting a U.S. Department of Labor recordkeeping rule. The consequences of repealing these health, safety, consumer and environmental protections will be painful and widespread. Visit www.RulesAtRisk.org to learn more.

Also this week, the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on three anti-regulatory bills: the SCRUB Act, which sets up regulatory review panels similar to the ones in Trump’s executive order; the OIRA Insight, Reform and Accountability Act, which subjects independent agencies to political pressure from the White House; and the Regulatory Integrity Act, which effectively gags federal agencies, blocking them from using social media to inform the public. In January, the House passed the Midnight Rules Relief Act, the REINS Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act – all designed to block public protections and grind the rulemaking process to a halt. Visit www.SensibleSafeguards.org to learn more.

ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICINES

Experts:
Peter Maybarduk, director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program
pmaybarduk@citizen.org
w. (202) 588-7755
c. (202) 390-5375

Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org
w. (202) 588-1000
c. (202) 360-1844

Trump has said he plans to overhaul the drug market, speeding up approvals while bringing down prices. As president-elect, he stated that the pharmaceutical industry was “getting away with murder” in the way it prices medicine, and he promised to take on the industry. Since then, he met with the leaders of several giant pharmaceutical corporations at the White House and emphasized the need to lower astronomical prices, but also suggested cutting up to 80 percent of vital safety regulations.

Instead of loosening the drug safety review process and jeopardizing patient safety, Trump should get tough on pharma and allow competition from generic companies, which would lower costs for patients. Additionally, allowing Medicare officials to participate in negotiations between manufacturers and the insurance companies would reduce medication costs.

BUDGET

Experts:
Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division
lgilbert@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5188
c. (551) 404-5200

Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org
w. (202) 588-1000
c. (202) 360-1844

Today, Trump released his preliminary budget, which contains $54 billion in cuts to environmental protections, international diplomacy efforts and more in order to pay for dramatic and unjustified increases in military spending. This proposed budget would emaciate public services and protections, endangering American workers, consumers and families.

TRADE

Expert:
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
lwallach@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5107

Trump has said that trade policy is a top priority and claimed he would launch NAFTA renegotiations immediately and withdraw from NAFTA if he cannot make it “a lot better” for working people. However he missed the deadline for the promised start of NAFTA renegotiations in the first 100 days. NAFTA renegotiation could be an opportunity to create a new trade model that benefits more people, but if done wrong, it could increase job offshoring, push down wages and expand the protections NAFTA provides to the corporate interests that shaped the original deal.

Another key campaign promise in Trump’s Contract with the American Voter that was not fulfilled was declaring China a currency manipulator. In addition to the lack of action on Chinese currency, Trump’s executive order flurry has not included the widely expected termination of negotiations for a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The treaty replicates key aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and NAFTA Trump loves to bash.

ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Experts:
Tyson Slocum director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program
tslocum@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5191
c. (202) 256-3152

David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program
darkush@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5132

Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org
w. (202) 588-1000
c. (202) 360-1844

Trump – who has called climate change a hoax – sent a clear message about how he would handle climate and energy policy when he selected fossil fuel ally and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt is a noted skeptic of climate change science and EPA critic.

In its first month, the Trump administration has taken care of its dirty energy friends. By executive order, Trump overturned President Barack Obama’s measures to block the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. Trump also signed an executive order placing a moratorium on international treaties, jeopardizing the Paris climate agreement and other environmental treaties. Additionally, Trump repdealed a rule that would have protected our streams and rivers from coal and mining companies intent on dumping toxic chemicals into our irrigation and drinking water. Trump’s actions thus far are clear on climate and energy policy and it is not good for the future of America.

JOHNSON AMENDMENT AND IRS RULES

Experts:
Emily Peterson-Cassin, project coordinator, Public Citizen’s Bright Lines Project
epetersoncassin@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5131
c. (202) 445-1401

Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division
lgilbert@citizen.org
w. (202) 454-5188
c. (551) 404-5200

Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, a decades-old provision ensuring that charities and religious organizations remain nonpartisan.

Without this rule, nonpartisan charities and churches would be open to manipulation for political ends – potentially turning churches and charities into super PACs. This law is vital to ensuring that taxpayers can trust that their charitable contributions aren’t being used to play in partisan politics.

A February analysis by Public Citizen shows that five groups who appear to want to demolish the Johnson Amendment have spent $24 million to influence elections since 2006.

Repealing the Johnson Amendment would exacerbate the problem of undisclosed money in politics. Instead, changes should be made to the tax code to include clear definitions and safe harbors for nonprofit political activity.

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