Trump Uses the Coronavirus as a Pretext to Reward Corporate Predators, Polluters

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: The Washington Post reported today that the Trump administration is using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to launch a sweeping effort to repeal or suspend regulatory safeguards.

The shameless exploitation of the coronavirus crisis to advance a precooked agenda to let corporations pollute our air and water, rip off consumers, endanger workers and trample on civil rights will leave the nation economically weaker and will worsen public health.

How does it help the economy if banks can prey on consumers?

How does it help us emerge from the public health crisis if corporations can pump more toxins into the air, worsening lung health?

How does it help the nation emerge from a crisis that has so disproportionately impacted people of color, if the administration waives civil rights protections?

How does it help families if the administrations further endangers the safety of our food supply?

If anyone needs a reminder of just how much damage can be done by deregulation, yesterday’s 10-year mark of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster is it.

The regulatory protections that the administration apparently plans to roll back or waive make our country stronger, better, safer, cleaner, healthier, fairer and more just. They spur and create innovation. Even using narrow, corporate-friendly criteria, the benefits of those rules vastly exceed the costs – by as much as 10-to-1 or more, as measured by Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

The deregulatory measures the administration has already taken during the pandemic – rolling back a smog rule, gutting the clean cars fuel economy rule (the most important U.S. climate change program), effectively waiving enforcement of environmental rules – have done far too much damage already. The last thing we need is more.

The Trump deregulatory scheme will do nothing to get money back into the pockets of consumers, workers and small business owners, or to put people back to work.

It is an evidence-free, ideological and corporate-driven illusion that public health regulations will hold up the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Beyond the lethality of the coronavirus itself, the real and most serious impediment to restarting the economy as quickly and sustainably as possible is the failure to provide adequate testing and tracing measures. Focusing on that problem is where the administration should be devoting its energies.

Public Citizen will closely monitor the administration’s deregulatory moves. If it fails to follow appropriate process or exceeds presidential authority, we anticipate suing immediately to block its destructive efforts.