Rolling back regulations was one of Trump’s many campaign promises. Shortly after his inauguration, he signed the Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (itself, perhaps ironically, a regulation). The aim of this executive order is ostensibly to control costs by scrapping two regulations for every new regulation imposed on businesses. However, underneath this facile rhetoric lies a dirty trick. Truth is, regulations are protections.
Rolling back regulations was one of Trump’s many campaign promises. Shortly after his inauguration, he signed the Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (itself, perhaps ironically, a regulation). The aim of this executive order is ostensibly to control costs by scrapping two regulations for every new regulation imposed on businesses. However, underneath this facile rhetoric lies a dirty trick. Truth is, regulations are protections. Just like hammers or guns, laws are tools that can be used to help or harm.
Trump’s appointments to governmental agencies belie an interest in tearing down the administrative state, as White House Chief Strategist and white nationalist icon Steve Bannon endorses. Each appointment seems specifically intended and devilishly designed to dismantle and destroy the very departments and agencies they’re supposed to lead. While this is likely to be viewed as a feature rather than a bug by the Trump administration, these agencies and the regulations they enforce are often helpful or even necessary for everyday Americans, including Trump supporters, to live a decent and healthy life.
Trump Signs Executive Order on Regulations, posted by the Associated Press
This month, Trump’s EPA (what’s left of it, anyway) asked Americans for suggestions about which regulations they most wanted to gut. Unlike Trump and his wingmen, many Americans recognize that regulations are protections, and told the EPA where to stuff it. People like you and me remembered what it was like before regulations forced companies to clean up their practices and stop fouling our air and water (or, at least, not treat the commons quite as badly as they used to, and try to be sneakier when they do it). Several respondents to the EPA survey even asked for more stringent regulation to make our water cleaner and our air easier to breathe than it is now.
What Scott Pruitt would do to our environment, Betsy DeVos would do to our children. While Americans on both the left and right agree that a decent education is crucial to securing good jobs and attracting the companies of the future to employ the American workforce, DeVos, as Secretary of Education, seems intent on dismantling public education in the United States. Maybe you can afford to send your children to elite private schools. Maybe you can’t, and you rely on our public school system to provide your kids (and the other kids that will someday be your coworkers, doctors, and in-laws) with a high quality, basic level of education. If that’s the case, the student loan program, good nutrition guidelines for kids’ meals, special education programs, and academic regulations are protections for our future citizens.
While Trump ran, and won, as a populist who identified (somehow) with the Common Man, his administration is hairline-deep in plutocracy and privatization. Regulations don’t necessarily kill jobs, the scare tactic businesses often use to garner support from the middle class. Rules aren’t evil just because they’re rules. The reasons they were enacted, matter. They should be considered, or reconsidered, on an individual basis.
When businesses say that regulations cost them money, what are they paying for? It costs more to clean up your sewage before you discharge it into the river. Remediating your brownfield before it becomes a Superfund site is expensive. Making sure employees have decent health coverage imposes a cost, sure. Big banks would love to charge exorbitant interest rates or foreclose on your house and sell it on the cheap to your next landlord. The companies that cheer Trump’s deregulatory agenda are some of the same companies that sent jobs overseas or automated them away, because American workers cost money, too. Regulations are protections, and the companies who want to trash them so they can more freely hurt you are not your friends. Getting Americans to vote for their own immiseration in order to serve corporate interests is one of Trump’s dirtiest tricks of all.