Amid swirling controversy over the burgeoning investigation into President Donald Trump's alleged Russia ties, groups are raising the alarm after the Trump administration on Thursday quietly unveiled its plan to roll back hundreds of Obama-era regulations aimed at shielding workers and the planet from corporate abuse.
"The only winners from this unified agenda are the corporate interests whose deregulatory wish lists the administration has adopted wholesale."
The more than 800 planned and existing regulations the White House is set to scrap "govern everything—from the basics of everyday living, such as a product safety standard for mattresses' flammability when it comes to cigarettes, to what sort of precautions construction firms should be required to take so their workers are not run over by other vehicles on site," the Washington Post summarized.
Worker advocates and environmental groups were quick to characterize the administration's deregulatory agenda as a sop to America's largest companies at the expense of those Trump has repeatedly promised to protect.
"Actions speak louder than words," Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), said in a statement.
Trump's deregulatory agenda "shows yet again that even though the president said he'd put working people first, his administration is acting to elevate corporate and financial industry interests, boosting corporate profits and enriching corporate insiders," Owens concluded. "Working people are last, not first, as the president initially promised—an especially cruel irony during the administration's so-called 'Made in America Week.'"
In addition to slashing protections for workers and the environment, the Trump administration's agenda also appears to kill an Obama-era effort to limit the pay of Wall Street executives.
"It wasn't going to happen under President Trump," Alexander Monterrubio, director of regulatory affairs for the National Association of Federal Credit Unions trade group, told Reuters.
Robert Faturechi of ProPublica and Danielle Ivory of the New York Times reported earlier this month that the Trump administration has created "deregulation teams" assembled with the goal of "aggressively" tossing out federal regulations.
"But the effort," Faturechi and Ivory concluded, "is being conducted in large part out of public view and often by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts."
It appears that the teams' efforts are paying off, argues Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen.
"Though the president said he'd put working people first, his administration is acting to elevate corporate and financial industry interests."
—Christine Owens, National Employment Law Project
"The only winners from this unified agenda are the corporate interests whose deregulatory wish lists the administration has adopted wholesale," Narang said in a statement on Thursday.
Trump's "corporate wish list" will almost certainly have corrosive effects over the long-term, green groups argued.
"Just 10 safeguards created between 2009 and 2014, for example, will save more than 10,000 lives and prevent 300,000 cases of illness and injury each year," noted the Natural Resources Defense Council.
But the administration's move toward mass deregulation will also open the door to disasters that could strike at any moment, Public Citizen's Narang concluded.
"Deregulation has led to historic disasters such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf, the Wall Street meltdown that led to the Great Recession and, most recently in the U.K., the Grenfell Tower fire," Narang said. "What this unified agenda makes clear is that, at the behest of big corporations, the Trump administration is laying the foundation for a new wave of deregulatory disasters."