The Republican Party is using Donald Trump and a bevy of deceitful tactics to conduct an all-out assault on numerous safeguards for which this country has fought long and hard. Laws protecting us against corruption, pollution, corporate fraud and financial scams—they’re all up for grabs now.
A few weeks back, my column, “Feeding the Swamp He Promised to Drain,” described how our “so-called president” signed an executive order calling for repeal of the Obama administration’s breakthrough retirement savings “fiduciary rule,” which would have gone into effect in April. The rule would have required financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients when giving financial advice on retirement account investments (a no-brainer).
All too often, when people ask their financial advisers and brokers for retirement advice, they get sold high-priced products that do not benefit their clients, but do greatly benefit the advisers and brokers. These swindles have drawn over $17 billion a year from the retirement savings accounts of mostly salaried working people. For obvious reasons, Wall Street didn’t like this new rule one bit. So, they’ve put a heap of money into killing it and Trump is their emissary.
But, don’t be mistaken for a second. It isn’t just Trump doing this. The Republican-controlled House and Senate have been fighting that fiduciary rule tooth and nail, and now they’ve got a lackey in the White House to do their bidding.
And this is just the beginning. The Republican Congress is hard at work planning numerous assaults on our protections. Next in line are pollution, corruption and corporate fraud.
Republicans, financed by corporate and billionaire funders, control both the executive and legislative branches of our government. Given this, we can expect to see an acceleration in the decade-long efforts of ultra-right conservatives to not only capture the Republican Party, but to seize the country for profit, as well.
Republicans are not a bit distressed that they have put an uninformed, misogynistic, racist, self-promoting narcissist in the White House. And they easily ignore his insulting, genital-grabbing, conspiracy-peddling, Jew-baiting, Muslim-hating and Putin-loving rhetoric. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, over 85 percent of voting Republicans like that he’s squatting in the Oval Office, an approval rating second only to that of George W. Bush among all GOP presidents elected in the last 65 years.
Grover Norquist, one of the chief strategists and a forceful leader of the conservative Republican movement over the last several years, worded it clearly and succinctly: “We just need a president to sign this stuff. Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.”
Donald Trump has signed less than a handful of Republican-sponsored bills so far in his relatively brief tenure. One of these bills allows coal companies to dump waste into streams; another lets oil companies bribe foreign dictators in secret. This is who our country has elected!
Last fall, after waiting eight years for Congress to put in place laws to protect streams, fish, wildlife, and related environmental entities from the adverse impacts of surface coal mining operations, the Obama administration finally moved on its own and issued an executive order. The stream protection rule requires the restoration of the physical form and ecological function of a stream that a company mines through and ensures that the post-mining surface be reclaimed. The rule also requires the establishment of a 100-foot-wide streamside vegetative corridor of native species along each bank of any restored or permanently diverted stream. Had this rule stayed in place, it would have created many jobs in ecological restoration, mostly in coal country, where cutting-edge industry jobs are few and far between.
Sounds worthy, huh? Well, protecting the environment and protecting people costs money, money that would otherwise go into the pockets of executives and investors, so...
Declaring that we’re going to bring back “great jobs big league,” Trump signed a bill repealing the transparency rule for oil companies, written under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The law was meant to fight corruption in resource-rich countries by mandating that companies on United States stock exchanges disclose the royalties and other payments that oil, natural gas, coal and mineral companies surreptitiously make to governments, essentially bribing dictators. Again, this was a first priority of the Republican Congress.
Up next on the Republican agenda and that of their instrument, Trump, is gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s right, the bureau so named to protect your interests and mine. Of course, Wall Street, the Republican Party and Agent Orange want it gone. The House Financial Services Committee has already begun to move forward on legislation to neuter the bureau’s lawful ability to crack down on predatory business practices. This is a top priority of the Republican-dominated Congress. It’s not just Trump.