As President Donald Trump and his cabinet move aggressively to implement their far-reaching and "potentially devastating" deregulatory agenda—slashing everything from environmental rules protecting the public water supply to labor standards shielding workers from harmful chemicals—many have begun to loudly raise the all-important question: who benefits? According to a Public Citizen report unveiled Wednesday, the answer in many cases is Trump himself.
"Trump promised to drain the swamp, but that's not what he's doing. He's undermining regulations in order to benefit himself, his family, and his close friends."
—Rep. David Cicilline
Authored by Public Citizen research director Rick Claypool and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the new analysis finds that "Trump's flurry of deregulatory policies and executive orders—especially his unconstitutional 'one in, two out' order—all point to one goal: allowing reckless corporations to regulate themselves, a model that has been spectacularly unsuccessful in the past."
"Meanwhile," Claypool and Cicilline add, "Trump's refusal to cede ownership of his businesses means the president can personally profit from gutting environmental, worker, health, and financial protections."
The report examines a total of six cases in which Trump's decision to slash a particular rule or public safeguard could ultimately be profitable for his vast business empire at the expense of workers and the environment.
Among the examples spotlighted are:
- The EPA's proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule, which would impose higher compliance costs on a wide variety of businesses, including golf courses ("Trump owns 12 golf courses in the U.S. that could be affected by the drinking water rule," the report notes);
- The Trump administration's elimination of the Obama Labor Department's expansion of overtime pay to cover employees who earn up to $47,400 a year, which would have benefited many of Trump's tens of thousands of employees; and
- EPA chief Scott Pruitt's decision to halt a planned ban on the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos (which was supposed to take effect March 31, 2017), which is frequently used by golf courses.
Also examined are broader areas of concern, particularly Trump's sweeping proposal to overhaul the U.S. tax code and deliver massive benefits to the wealthiest Americans, the largest corporations, himself, and his family.
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"If Trump's net worth is $3.5 billion, as has been reported, Trump's heirs would benefit from an estate tax repeal by at least $857 million," the analysis notes.
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) October 11, 2017
Claypool and Cicilline conclude their report by arguing for higher standards of government transparency, particularly for an administration awash in scandals and conflicts of interest.
"The public deserves to be informed about how the president stands to gain when his administration and legislators call for axing protections that improve and protect American lives."
—Public Citizen"Because of Trump's pervasive regulatory conflicts, any attempt by the administration to gut public protections should be preceded by a detailed and thorough accounting of how such actions will impact the president and his business interests," the report concludes. "The public deserves to be informed about how the president stands to gain when his administration and legislators call for axing protections that improve and protect American lives."
Public Citizen released the new analysis to coincide with Rep. Cicilline's introduction of the DRAIN the Swamp Act, which would require federal officials to disclose any potential conflicts of interest before they can carry out changes to the regulatory system.
"Trump promised to drain the swamp, but that's not what he's doing," Cicilline concluded. "He's undermining regulations in order to benefit himself, his family, and his close friends."