By Amit Narang, Public Citizen
It likely won’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog that big spending Big Business special interest lobbyists have a chokehold on policymaking in Washington DC. Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to the desire of Big Business to kill basic public protections such as clean air, clean water, Wall Street reforms that hold big banks accountable, safe workplace requirements, food safety measures, and the list goes on.
Of course, Big Business groups including Big Oil and Gas and big Wall Street banks hate these regulations because the cost of these necessary protections cuts into their already massive profits. These corporations would prefer to simply continue to dump all the negative consequences, or externalities, that their businesses create onto the public. However, that means that the public is left to pay the price for these lost protections: the toxic pollution that will be spewed into the air and dumped in our lakes and rivers, unsafe consumer products that injure or kill consumers and children, reckless gambling on Wall Street that could again crash the economy– leading to another possible bailout of the financial industry.
Luckily, the problem for Big Business lobbyists in achieving their goal of no more regulations is that the public loves clean air, clean water, tough regulation of Wall Street, safe food, safe consumer products, and lots of other commonsense regulations that protect the public. Not only that, but the public also hates seeing members of Congress doing the bidding of Big Business and government agencies giving handouts to corporations by writing loopholes into its regulations.
This is why it’s so ridiculous that President Trump signs Executive Orders gutting public health and safety regulations surrounded by CEOs of the biggest companies in America while at the same time proclaiming, laughably, that his test for regulations is whether “they make life better or safer for American workers and consumers.”
So the age-old trick for Big Business to accomplish its self-interested deregulatory agenda, while not making it look like it only benefits corporate America, is to hide behind small businesses. Big Business lobbyists are constantly pushing false talking points that regulations only hurt, and never help, small businesses. The public rightly sympathizes with small businesses and believes that Congress should help them, but not at the expense of also helping Big Business. Unfortunately, this trick works and allows members of Congress to look like they’re helping small businesses in railing against regulation when in fact their main goal is to do the bidding of Big Business in killing a regulation. Big Business groups use the same sham strategy to mask their own opposition to a regulation by making it look like small business owners are the face of the opposition.
The truth is actually the opposite: having regulations on the books helps small businesses while a lack of regulation hurts small businesses. Take for example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Rule that was supported by microbrewers across the country because they rely on clean water to brew good beer. Or, the environmental clean-up programs in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay that helped save the small companies that make up the oyster industry that are now under threat from President Trump’s proposed budget cuts.
When regulations are not in place, small businesses are often the first to suffer. The massive British Petroleum explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico devastated the small businesses in the tourism and fishing industry all along the Gulf Coast and Florida. The cause was a lack of safety equipment, called blowout preventers, on oil rigs drilling deep in the Gulf. Six years after this ecological disaster, the government finally required oil companies to install the equipment, despite those companies lobbying heavily against the regulations.
And now there is an important U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation that directly helps small chicken farmers but which is under threat of being put on hold and blocked by the Trump administration. This rule would level the playing field for small farmers by putting restrictions on huge farming corporations and conglomerates that use their market power to force small farmers to accept lower prices than they normally would receive in a competitive market. In short, this regulation helps just small businesses and hurts Big Business. And that, in a nutshell, is why Republicans in Congress and Big Business groups are trying to kill a regulation which actually helps real small businesses.
The good news is that there is still time to make a difference! The USDA is accepting comments in support of keeping the rule to help small chicken farmers and our friends at the Organization for Competitive Markets, led by President and small farmer Mike Weaver, have put together a model comment for Public Citizen supporters to send to USDA to easily show their endorsement of the rule. We need you to act now because the deadline is this Friday, March 24th. Every comment counts, especially those submitted to the USDA. Since there are so few comments typically submitted on a rule like this, the comments are unfortunately often dominated by Big Business groups opposed to the rule.
Please take a moment to fight back against Big Business by saving a rule that actually helps real small businesses.