Trump’s Regulatory Accountability Act Is a License to Kill

Sam Berger Senior Policy Advisor, Center for American Progress

Don’t let the innocuous name fool you: The Regulatory Accountability Act recently introduced in the Senate is nothing less than President Donald Trump’s License to Kill Bill. Described as the means of realizing Steve Bannon’s dream to deconstruct the government, this bill is part of Trump’s two-step strategy to first strip people of important health, safety, and consumer protections and then prevent agencies from ever protecting people from these harms again. By hamstringing the dedicated public servants charged with ensuring everything from safe infant formula to clean drinking water to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, this bill would put corporate profits before people’s lives and livelihoods.

More than 100 days into the administration, the nation has a good understanding of what “regulatory accountability” means to Trump. The president and Congress have already used the obscure Congressional Review Act to repeal 13 regulations, including protections against toxic pollutants in drinking water, exploitative and illegal labor practices by federal contractors, and the sale of your browser history by internet service providers without your consent. The end result: more than $700 million in annual giveaways to corporations, at the cost of millions of dollars in reduced wages, a net loss of jobs, and the elimination of a wide range of important consumer protections.

And Trump has been clear that these repeals are just the beginning. He’s begun efforts to undermine a rule that keeps financial advisors from cheating clients, which would cost people $17 billion a year in retirement savings. He’s also holding up new overtime protections for millions of Americans, which could reduce wages by $12 billion over the next 10 years. And his head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed the agency’s earlier decision to ban a common agricultural pesticide that the agency’s scientists, after an extensive risk assessment, had concluded can damage the neurological development of children. Moreover, because of its wide-ranging scope, the bill would even hamstring the ability of financial regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to put in place regulations that rein in Wall Street and prevent financial crises. Given that the last major financial crisis stuck the United States with a price tag of 8.7 million lost jobs, 10 percent unemployment, and $19 trillion in lost wealth, these are regulations the nation needs to have in place.

Trump’s License to Kill Bill would not only make permanent devastating repeals of critical protections for the middle class, but also eliminate protections from future harms. This bill upends the current regulatory process in order to make costs to industry more important than benefits to the public; make it harder for agencies to respond to new threats to health and safety; and make it easier for large corporations to hold up necessary protections in court.

The bill would turbocharge the industry playbook for opposing needed protections, which focuses on delaying implementation and arguing for more cost-effective alternatives. Automobile manufacturers, for example, used these arguments to delay mandatory airbags for 20 years, suggesting less expensive automatic seatbelts were an adequate substitute. In the interim, these delay tactics likely resulted in 90,000 preventable deaths. Industry recognizes the benefits this bill would reap; a Center for American Progress study found that more than 70 corporations and industry trade associations lobbied Congress during the first quarter of 2017, spending millions to pass it.

The Regulatory Accountability Act would bog agencies down in so much red tape and litigation that they could never respond to emerging threats to consumer welfare, public health, or safety. Agencies would be forced to engage in endless analysis of the potential effects of their proposal and a number of alternate ones, hold time-consuming, trial-like proceedings to resolve any technical or scientific issue raised by industry, and be tied up in court as judges second-guess every decision that would now be subject to judicial review.

Meanwhile, the next unsafe carcinogen found in worksites would go unregulated, as workers pay the price. The next financial scam would continue unabated, as consumers lose their hard-earned money. The next unsafe product would find its way into millions of homes, and families would be put at risk. The next threat to the economy’s financial stability would go unchecked, and all of us could suffer as a result. All so that corporations could pad their profits by playing by a different set of rules than everyone else.

This bill would provide big business with a license to pollute, to cheat, and, yes, to kill. And those charged with protecting us would be powerless to stop it, stripped of their authority as part of Trump’s plan to enrich his friends and impoverish everyone else. The Trump administration will do significant damage to hardworking families over the next four years. And if Trump’s License to Kill Bill passes, we may never be able to undo the harm.

***

Reposted from CAP.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

More ...

There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work