July 19, 2017
Six Months of Damage: Trump’s Corporate Presidency Delivers Benefits to Business, Harms Public
In Contrast to Populist Promises, Trump Has Focused on Giveaways to Industry, Public Citizen Report Shows
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Six months after his inauguration, President Donald Trump has made a mockery of his populist campaign pledges, instead delivering a slew of giveaways to corporate America, with countless more in the works, a new Public Citizen report (PDF) shows.
During the presidential campaign, Trump proclaimed that he would break up “the special interest monopoly in Washington, D.C.” But Trump’s anti-industry bluster has largely dissipated, and he is hiring the same corporate lobbyists he denounced, giving industry representatives a dominant role in making policy decisions, the report finds.
“America, you’ve been had. Donald Trump’s presidency is nothing more than a giant bait and switch scheme. While Candidate Trump promised to fix a rigged economic and political system, President Trump swiftly turned control of government over to the very corporate elites he denounced during the campaign, ” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “They are using their newfound powers to establish a right to pollute, rip off, cheat, price gouge and discriminate.”
The Public Citizen report, “Trump’s Corporate Con Job,” details 11 sectors benefiting from the Trump administration’s policies. They are:
• 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 proposal from Trump would deliver massive benefits to the wealthy.
• Autos: At the behest of the automakers, Trump traveled to Detroit in March 2017 to announce his administration would postpone a decision on whether to enact previously planned increases to fuel efficiency standards. These Obama-era rules would raise the average vehicle’s official gas mileage to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
• Chemicals: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has overturned staff experts’ recommendation to bar a dangerous insecticide and watered down a key bipartisan toxic substances law.
• Defense: After the election, Trump criticized Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Boeing Co.’s plans for a new Air Force One as glaring examples of government waste. He then proposed a budget plan that would enrich those same contractors with an increase to military spending of $54 billion per year.
• Education: Trump’s U.S. Department of Education is working to roll back rules established during the Obama administration that protect students from predatory private colleges and 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. Trump is favoring fossil fuel-based energy producers 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 and has reversed course on his promise to reestablish Glass-Steagall protections.
• Food: Since the election, Trump has catered to the demands of corporate food producers and agribusiness at the expense of food safety and children’s nutrition.
• Pharmaceuticals: After casting himself as an opponent of pharmaceutical industry greed during the campaign, Trump has fully caved in to the industry. The White House is now working to 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 the telecom industry to sell consumers private internet browsing data. His Federal Communications Commission 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.
It may be tempting to conclude that Trump isn’t accomplishing anything of significance, given the chaotic scandal-plagued Trump administration’s failure to advance its priorities in Congress. However, Trump-nominated officials are unraveling important public protections, often at the behest of industry.
“Giant corporations are now designing and carrying out policy to an extent unequaled in American history,” said Alan Zibel, research director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project. “Working through their former employees and former lobbyists, they are controlling our government and designing policy that harms everyday Americans, including those who voted for Trump.”