By U.S. Chamber Watch
On Monday, President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a major address on his administration’s push for regulatory “reform”. While the Republican Party may have more in-fighting than a forty minute episode of Real Housewives, one thing they can almost all agree on is deregulation. The main driver of this deregulatory agenda is none other than that big business behemoth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has already had a lot of success pushing Trump and the GOP congress to revoke a slew of Obama-era rules protecting consumers, workers, and the environment. As Trump now prepares for a new round of deregulatory fervor, we preview the Chamber’s priorities, which we fully expect him to embrace on Monday.
At the top of the Chamber’s deregulatory wish list, and likely to be mentioned by Trump, is repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, which helps to limit Wall Street’s penchant for casino capitalism. Concretely, this means once again pushing for the adoption of the Financial CHOICE Act, a sweeping Wall Street deregulation bill that would undo much of Dodd-Frank. The Chamber has been lobbying fiercely in support of this bill. Among other things, the CHOICE Act would repeal the Volcker Rule, a piece of legislation the Chamber loves to hate. The Volcker Rule ensures that banks refrain from engaging in speculative trading with investors’ money, thereby reducing the risk of another financial crisis. The Chamber and the Big Banks are against the Volcker Rule because it limits Wall Street’s ability to make short term profits off of risky trades that drive big bonuses for executives but also put the real economy at risk.
The CHOICE Act (or as we’ve dubbed it, the “Wrong Choice Act”) would also cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, something the Chamber has longed to destroy since it was first created by Dodd-Frank. And while we’re on the topic of the CFPB, the GOP and the Chamber are also pushing to repeal the agency’s ban on forced arbitration. Forced arbitration is a type of “rip-off clause” buried in the fine print of credit card, loan, bank account, and a variety of other contracts that giant corporations use to avoid accountability for wrongdoing.
When it comes to the environment, the Chamber and Trump have proven time and time again that they have little regard for planet Earth. In the course of just 3 years, the Chamber opposed the EPA in court 26 times and they have lobbied on these issues for years. We have little reason to believe Trump won’t renew his vows to destroy the Clean Power Plan during Monday’s speech. Given its decades-long history of doing the dirty work on behalf of the fossil fuel industry as well as other polluting industries, it comes as no surprise that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also pushing hard for repeal of the clean water rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The Chamber and Trump have also previously indicated that permit streamlining will be one of their top deregulatory priorities, something we suspect may also make an appearance in Monday’s speech.
Who exactly are the Chamber and Trump representing by pushing for mass deregulation of public protections? Not voters. 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.
What’s more, regulations could have helped to prevent some of the most catastrophic events in the country. The BP oil spill, an event with which the Chamber is quite familiar, having repeatedly supported BP in court in litigation against both the U.S. government and American small businesses, has imposed tens of billions of dollars in damages to the Gulf of Mexico and affected Gulf Coast communities, something that could have been prevented by stricter safety regulations. Another catastrophe that could have possibly been avoided with more strict regulation? The 2008 financial crisis, born of out of control risk-taking by Wall Street banks and insurance companies. These sorts of catastrophes, both natural disasters and financial crises, have the potential to devastate families, small businesses, and the environment. When the Chamber pushes its deregulatory agenda, it is yet again lobbying in the interest of yuge corporations at the expense of the small businesses it claims to represent.
Tune in to @USChamberWatch and our friends at @RegsRock on Twitter to follow along on Monday. We’ll be fact-checking the President faster than he can say “1 in, 2 out.’