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Trump’s Self-Serving Deregulatory Binge Endangers Americans, Betrays His Supporters

Dec. 14, 2017

Trump’s Self-Serving Deregulatory Binge Endangers Americans, Betrays His Supporters

Three False Claims Trump Is Likely to Make and Why They’re Wrong

UPDATE: Trump did indeed make these claims in his speech.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Trump administration’s self-serving deregulatory binge endangers Americans and harms Trump’s strongest supporters, Public Citizen said today in advance of President Donald Trump’s speech about regulations. The organization outlined three false claims Trump is likely to make in his speech and why they are wrong.

“Trump’s deregulatory crusade is built on a foundation of lies, misstatements and inaccuracies,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The regulatory protections his administration is rolling back, delaying or abandoning not only save lives, prevent injuries, stop consumer rip-offs and protect the planet, they make our economy stronger. The economic benefits of major regulations vastly exceed the hyped-up costs. Regulatory safeguards promote innovation, advance competition and deter reckless Wall Street activity that imperils the economy. Trump’s deregulatory binge has nothing to do with aiding the economy and everything to do with enabling big corporations to recklessly prey on and endanger the public in service of their single-minded and short-term focus on profits.”

“Trump’s absurd rhetoric demonizing ‘red tape’ is nothing more than a stand-in for removing public protections that the American people depend on, and a way of catering to the demands of big corporations,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “Main Street Americans want strong and effective safeguards to protect our air, water, health, safety, financial system and more. Trump’s attack on regulations and gutting of enforcement is setting the stage for major deregulatory disasters.”

“Trump’s signature deregulatory achievements have been to give the big banks on Wall Street license to deceive and rip off consumers, allow unscrupulous employers to make workplaces less safe and let huge energy companies pollute even more,” said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The administration has done this by handing over government agencies to the corporations those agencies are supposed to regulate. Trump loves to brag about the number of regulations he’s cut, but it’s the number of lobbyists and corporate officials staffing his administration that is truly mind-boggling.”

Trump’s speech comes on the same day that the administration is releasing its fall 2017 unified agenda on regulations and within hours of the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal net neutrality rules that keep the internet open and free. Voters did not ask for this deregulatory push and do not want it. Polling consistently shows that Democrats, Republicans and Independents by overwhelming margins want more protective rules and tougher enforcement – whether the question is framed in general terms or addresses specific regulations.

Public Citizen has released a series of reports this year documenting the conflicts of interest behind Trump’s deregulation push, the administration’s hundreds of rulemaking withdrawals and the extraordinary amount of corporate money behind this deregulatory agenda.

Trump’s deregulatory push is premised on a series of false beliefs, distortions and discredited studies that do not stand up to even the most basic scrutiny. Some of the president’s advisers and allies have admitted as much or have taken active steps to cover up the truth.

Here are three false claims Trump is likely to make in his speech and why they are wrong:

False Claim #1: Regulations harm the economy.
The Washington Post’s fact checker and Politifact have debunked the outlandish claims made by Trump and Republicans regarding regulatory costs. Most industry-backed studies are not scientific or peer-reviewed, exaggerate the costs and omit the benefits side of the ledger. The facts are that major regulations produced up to $800 billion in net benefits (PDF) over the past decade – up to 12 times the costs – according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) latest figures. The Trump administration evidently considered OMB’s reports so damaging to its case that it took steps to hide these reports from the public upon taking office. In addition, rolling back regulations can be very expensive for consumers. For example, auto fuel efficiency standards will save consumers up to $5,700 a year, and the Clean Power Plan will reduce electricity bills in some states by as much as 20 percent. Repealing these rules means consumers will lose those savings.
The Truth: Regulations are good for consumers and the benefits vastly outweigh the costs.

False Claim #2: Cutting regulations creates jobs and grows the economy.
White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short admitted on an April 5 press call that repealing regulations does nothing to create jobs or grow the economy. This truth was echoed by coal industry executives (close allies of the president) who acknowledged that repeal of the stream protection rule and other climate change measures like the Clean Power Plan would do nothing to bring back coal jobs. What’s more, Americans have seen firsthand that cutting regulations can lead to economic devastation. The deregulation of Wall Street in the 1990s and 2000s led to the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession, which cost Americans up to $14 trillion, destroyed 8.7 million jobs and caused pension funds for workers to lose nearly a third of their value.
The Truth: Regulations are essential to a prosperous economy and can create jobs.

False Claim #3: Businesses are being held back by an endless stream of red tape.
Right now, corporate profits are at their highest in more than a decade – so any claim that businesses are being held back should be treated with skepticism. The vast majority of federal regulations are uncontroversial. For example, there are rules moving tax day to a Monday in years when it falls on a Sunday; rules setting the timetables for the raising and lowering of drawbridges; and rules ensuring that trees and shrubs don’t block the runways at our airports. Are there a lot of these rules? Yes. And that’s because we all benefit from them. These sorts of ideological attacks on regulation are mostly about shutting down the rules that hold corporations accountable when they endanger the public.
The Truth: We need regulations to keep our society running smoothly and hold corporate criminals accountable.

Public Citizen’s experts are available for television, radio and print interviews. Our experts can tell you how robust regulation and enforcement are essential to economic prosperity; how Trump and the Republican Party’s attacks on regulation are hurting regular Americans and setting the stage for large-scale deregulatory disasters; how these attacks run contrary to public opinion and defy major campaign promises; and how deregulation is payback to corporate donors.

Here are just some of the battles Public Citizen is involved in to defend our system of public protections:

  • Public Citizen is suing to block the Trump administration’s executive order on regulations – which stops any new rule from being issued unless two safeguards are repealed – and is involved in several ongoing legal battles over specific rules, including the U.S. Department of Education’s borrower defense rule, the U.S. Department of Labor’s rule on tracking workplace injuries and the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule;
  • Public Citizen led a coalition of hundreds of groups opposed to the Congressional Review Act, which congressional Republicans used to repeal 15 rules including limits on forced arbitration in consumer financial contracts, broadband privacy protections, clean water protections and more;
  • Public Citizen co-chairs the Clean Budget Coalition, which is fighting to remove anti-regulatory and deregulatory policy riders from federal spending legislation;
  • Public Citizen is one of the groups leading the opposition to the Financial CHOICE Act, which would deregulate Wall Street and the financial industry;
  • Public Citizen has issue experts and public policy advocates fighting for stronger safeguards and tougher enforcement on a variety of fronts: Wall Street reform, clean energy, worker protections, safe and affordable medicines, curbing the corrupting influence of money in politics and fixing our political process.

Please contact any of the individuals listed above to speak with an expert.