Just days after taking office, President Trump invited American manufacturers to recommend ways the government could cut regulations and make it easier for companies to get their projects approved.
Industry leaders responded with scores of suggestions that paint the clearest picture yet of the dramatic steps that Trump officials are likely to take in overhauling federal policies, especially those designed to advance environmental protection and safeguard worker rights.
Those clues are embedded in the 168 comments submitted to the government after Trump signed a presidential memorandumJan. 24 instructing the Commerce Department to figure out how to ease permitting and trim regulations with the aim of boosting domestic manufacturing. The Environmental Protection Agency has emerged as the primary target in these comments, accounting for nearly half, with the Labor Department in second place as the subject of more than one-fifth, according to a Commerce Department analysis.
Asking the American people whether or not they'd like clean water or air didn't make the list, since the Trump regime is literally asking corporations to set American environmental and labor policy.
Among the notable items on industry’s to-do list:
- BP wants to make it easier to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico by reducing how often companies must renew their leases.
- A trade association representing the pavement industry wants to preclude the U.S. Geological Survey from conducting what the group says is “advocacy research” into the environmental impact of coal tar. The Pavement Coatings Technology Council says this research could limit what it uses to seal parking lots and driveways.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to reduce the amount of time opponents have to challenge federal approval of projects. Challenges would have to be filed within two years, down from six.
- The Chamber also wants to jettison a requirement that employers report their injury and illness records electronically to the Labor Department so they can be posted “on the internet for anyone to see.”
Three senior administration officials in different departments said the White House is inclined to accept many of these suggestions. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a process that is underway.
- And in its 51-page comment, “Make Federal Agencies Responsible Again,” the Associated General Contractors of America recommended repealing 11 of President Barack Obama’s executive orders and memorandums, including one establishing paid sick leave for government contractors.
Pretty sure all of them are fair game. But transparency in worker safety records, paid sick leave, and the environment are not what corporate America wants to pay for, so "populist" Trump will make sure his corporate donors get what they paid for.
As Greg Sargent notes, Trump is now fully jettisoning his economic populism stances to become -- surprise! -- a standard war hawk corporate Republican.
But it has long been obvious that Trump was going to govern in ways that Wall Street aligned GOP elites are perfectly comfortable with. Trump’s agenda has long included elements that conventional conservative Republicans support: deregulation of Wall Street; a rollback of regulations to protect the environment and combat climate change; deep tax cuts for the rich and businesses. All of that has been underway or in the planning stages since the beginning.
Trump’s reversals on trade and Ex-Im should only be surprising if you took his economic populism seriously during the campaign. But there was never any grounds for thinking it amounted to anything concrete at all in policy terms. Trump blustered a lot about trade, but he never detailed an actual agenda on it, let alone one that would help workers. He talked tough about raising taxes for the rich before releasing a tax plan that would slash them dramatically.
Pundits told us for months that Trump’s economic nationalism represented a heterodox combination of hard-line immigration restrictionism and a decisive break with Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian Republicanism on Keynesian spending and social insurance and the safety net. But the second half of that was always mostly nonsense, and all that’s happening now is that this is getting confirmed.
So what we're getting with Trump is the worst of Austerity poor-shamers twisting morality into draconian cuts, on top of outright racist white nationalism, now combined with vicious saber-rattling and military belligerence. We're looking at a regime that combines the absolute worst qualities of the GOP mashed into one awful package, and we're not even 100 days in.
Trump's pivot was to actually become the monster those of us who knew that he always was was capable of being. The rest of us? Well, you folks didn't actually think Trump gave a damn about you, did you?