Picture Credit: Forthoodsavers.com/©Wal-Mart Inc.
The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of strange happenings with regards to the Administration and Congress. The fanfare and drama surrounding these events is captivating and has implications that affect all of us as Americans. It will also make interesting reading in the history books of the future.
However, while this drama plays out on the public stage and in the news outlets, lets not forget that President Trump still has ink in his pen, and he’s using it. Regulations and rules are being thrown out the window faster than an ex-girlfriend can throw a boyfriends clothes onto the yard.
What is the goal of all this? Why? You might ask. It depends on with whom you are talking. If you ask the Administration, they are simply removing roadblocks to economic progress. But at what cost? The Republicans in Congress, although they won’t admit this, seem eager to erase President Obama’s legacy from the history books. Steve Bannon, one of the President’s senior advisors and former head of ‘Breitbart News‘,’ seems to not want any government regulation, rules, oversight, or even agencies at all. And of course, the rank and file Republicans believe that enthusiastically clearing the “red tape” will bring jobs pouring back into this country.
These repeals and rollbacks stand to do a lot of damage. Until Trump is removed from office, by Impeachment, resignation, or by the end of his term, the rampant and free reign of profiteering, while disregarding the environment, good financial sense, or the welfare of others, will only intensify. It will take years to repair this damage. Environmentally, hopefully there is enough time to reverse the damage before we find the coasts underwater. Financially, we’ve all seen the results of a financial market that went unchecked, the Great Recession. Hopefully, if another one comes, it won’t be as deep, or as bad as that one. Some leader in the future will have to re-perform the work done painstakingly over the last 8 years, wasting precious time and resources. All for what? So we can prove for the umpteenth time that Republican Policies do not work for the majority, and are at best, dangerous!
Let’s take a look at a few of these actions:
- The Internet’s Privacy Rules.: Do you value your privacy? In particular, does it make you mad to think your ISP might be collecting information on your browsing habits, or the websites you visit, or where you’re spending money online. Why would they do this? To sell to advertisers in order to more precisely target advertising at you while you are online, all without your permission. That’s exactly what today’s repeal, if Trump signs it into law (which he’s said he would do) does to your internet privacy rights. It repeals the Obama Era regulation which prohibits this kind of collection.
- Environmental Rules: Putting the coal miners back to work was a key piece of Trump’s campaign promises, a promise that was likely one of the reasons he won certain states to clinch the Electoral College. This week, Trump signed an executive order rolling back the Obama rules for reducing carbon emissions, stopping mining, etc. He also in the last week authorized the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Ignoring industry reports that coal may NEVER make a comeback, he signed it anyways. Trump has also famously disregarded the scientific evidence of Global Climate change, claiming that 99% of climate scientists is not a “consensus” on the issue. Essentially, he is putting the future of the planet, and our children and grandchildren’s well being at risk for the sake of a few people making a quick profit over the next couple of years.
- Education Regulations: On Monday, Trump signed a Bill which repealed many of the standards set by the Every Student Succeeds Act, a Obama Era, Bipartisan law meant to hold educators and schools accountable for their students success. K-12 teacher training being one of the many things affected. Trump claimed that he signed the bill to get the government out of the way of educating our children. In effect, hes laid the groundwork for school systems across the country to have wide differences in standards of education. It is also not harmful to Education Secretary Betsy Devos’ goal of privatizing (vouchers) the educational system in America.
- Federal Contractor Blacklisting: A Labor Department rule that puts contractors on a list who violate worker safety rules and prohibits government agencies from doing business with them. The rule was designed to encourage contractors to adhere to worker safety rules, rather than cut corners and use this in an attempt to win bids and jobs. Trump signed a bill under the CRA (Congressional Review Act) that eliminated these rules, claiming they were “job killing.” But the effect of its elimination might be far worse, “worker killing.”
- Obama’s Climate Legacy: Along with the environmental rules above, Trump seeks to erase the overwhelming majority of President Obama’s Climate Plan. A key point he has taken aim at is the requirement that ALL Federal Agencies take into account the environmental impact of any policy or other program decision they make. The Clean Power Plan Rules, designed to provide flexibility for providers to meet new stands, go on the chopping block as well. There is even talk of leaving the Historic Paris Climate Agreement (effectively destroying it internationally)
Climate groups are appalled and outraged at the blatant disregard for the safety of the environment. In fact, Trump and several Republicans in Congress have expressed a desire to abolish the EPA.
In fact, of all the rule unwinding that Trump and his advisors have thrown themselves into, the environmental regulations may be the most far reaching and damaging. It will most definitely have some effect upon the next few generations of people to live on the planet. Why? So a few billionaires can make a few more million dollars?
And that is just a sampling of some of the rules and regulations that the Administration has taken an axe to. Others include fair pay rules, federal land use, and other environmental and education concerns.
He does this publicly in the name of “reducing the regulatory burden” on businesses, schools, and the like to help them “create jobs” and give the states and localities “more control” over their processes. Realistically though, the true effect will simply be to allow massive profiteering by corporations at the expense of our health and planet. In cases like the Education rollbacks, it will simply push an already overtaxed system towards collapse faster, and increase the likelihood of privatization. Basically, all the points which push a conservative agenda that ignores the needs of the workers and working poor, disabled, and others less fortunate in this country.
Let’s be clear; Laws, rules, and regulations do not exist to hinder any business or person from seeing their business grow, making money, or having their dreams come true. They protect the rest of us from those that, through temptation or malice, will cut corners and endanger the lives and health of others, just to make a few extra dollars. Basically, no law or regulation would exist if the practice it addressed had not been done before, by intention or accident. Why are there clean water rules? Why are there financial regulations? These answers should be obvious, to keep company’s and individuals from harming others. Where is it written, beside in Republican dogma, that that is a bad thing, to have rules that protect, rather than just taking it for granted that people will do the right thing.
It may seem like there is little that you can do to hold back the steamroller that is Trump and his people, but there might be. As a voter, you are going to need to get involved and be informed. It may be boring to watch C SPAN, but how else can the ordinary citizen understand how the process works. Write letters and make calls to your Representatives when something is coming up that will affect you and your neighbors. You have seen the power of this in the Health Care vote (or more specifically, non-vote) which was supposed to be the easiest bill for the GOP to pass. Go to the town halls. Make sure you vote in EVERY election, it’s your right. And remember, you are the only one who can surrender your rights voluntarily, and basically say,”I don’t care, do whatever you want to me!”
With any luck, our national nightmare/embarrassment/buffoonery will be over with soon. But until that day, this is still a Democracy, and for it to function, it’s citizens must know whats going on. Let your opinions be known, and don’t let them take your rights, or your protections, away without a fight!
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