A new EPI report analyzes the recent wave of preemption laws passed by state legislatures to undercut local labor standards. EPI associate labor counsel Marni von Wilpert shows that preemption activity has increased dramatically since 2010, as Republican-controlled state legislatures have repeatedly struck down local government efforts to improve the working conditions of their residents. Just last week the minimum wage in St. Louis was lowered from $10 per hour back down to $7.70 per hour because of a preemption law passed in Missouri. Von Wilpert provides an overview of five areas affected by preemption—minimum wage, paid leave, fair work scheduling, prevailing wage, and project labor agreements—and details the impact of preemption throughout the United States. Read the Full Report.
News from Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
Many financial institutions use forced arbitration clauses in their contracts to block consumers with disputes from banding together in court, instead requiring each consumer to argue their case separately in private arbitration proceedings. Recently, members of Congress introduced legislation to repeal a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that restores consumers’ ability to join together in class action lawsuits against financial institutions.
Opponents of the rule have suggested that the CFPB’s own findings show consumers on average receive greater relief in arbitration than class action lawsuits. In a new fact sheet, EPI Policy Director Heidi Shierholz explains that this is enormously misleading. While the average consumer who wins a claim in arbitration recovers $5,389, consumers win only 9 percent of disputes. Overall, the average consumer who enters arbitration with a bank or lender is ordered to pay $7,725. Furthermore, Shierholz points out, evidence shows that allowing consumers to join together in court does not increase consumer costs or decrease available credit.
“The numbers couldn’t be more clear—class actions return hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers, while forced arbitration only pays off for banks and lenders,” said Shierholz. “Congress should side with the American people, not big banks, and vote down this capricious attack on consumer freedom.”
The new arbitration rule from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) restores consumers’ ability to join together in class action lawsuits against financial institutions.
H.J.Res.111 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to “Arbitration Agreements”.
This joint resolution nullifies a rule submitted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding arbitration agreements.
(The rule regulates the use of arbitration agreements in contracts for specific consumer financial products and services. It prohibits the use of a pre-dispute arbitration agreement to prevent a consumer from filing or participating in certain class action suits. The rule also requires consumer financial product and service providers to furnish the CFPB with particular information regarding arbitrations.)
- Republican Mark Amodei voted FOR passage to repeal and thus deny those Consumer Protection rights for not just his constituents, but ALL Americans to enable his Corporate benefactors to profit from their customer abuses.
- Democrats Ruben Kihuen, Jacky Rosen and Dina Titus voted AGAINST passage — to protect consumer protection rights
Based on five years of careful study, the July 2017 final rule stems from a congressional directive instructing the agency to study forced arbitration and restrict or ban the practice if it harms consumers. Many financial institutions use forced arbitration clauses in their contracts to block consumers with disputes from banding together in court, instead requiring each consumer to argue their case separately in private arbitration proceedings.
In recent weeks, members of Congress have introduced legislation to repeal the CFPB rule and take away consumers’ newly restored right to band together in court. Opponents of the rule have suggested that the bureau’s own findings show consumers on average receive greater relief in arbitration ($5,389) than class action lawsuits ($32). This is enormously misleading.
While the average consumer who wins a claim in arbitration recovers $5,389, this is not even close to a typical consumer outcome. Why? Consumers obtain relief regarding their claims in only 9 percent of disputes. On the other hand, when companies make claims or counterclaims, arbitrators grant them relief 93 percent of the time—meaning they order the consumer to pay. If you consider both sides of this equation, in arbitration, the average consumer is ordered to pay $7,725 to the bank or lender. That’s right: the average consumer ends up paying financial institutions in arbitration.
But let’s consider the consumers who do win in arbitration. How do those numbers stack up against class action lawsuits? In an average year:
- At least 6,800,000 consumers get cash relief in class actions—compared with just 16 consumers who receive cash relief in arbitration, according to available data.
- Consumers recover at least $440,000,000 in class actions, after deducting all attorneys’ fees and court costs—compared with a total of $86,216 in arbitration.
Banning consumer class actions lets financial institutions keep hundreds of millions of dollars that would otherwise go back to harmed consumers every year.
The financial industry often claims that arbitration is cheaper and faster for consumers. How do these claims stand up to the data?
- Consumers pay an average cost of $161 to file a claim in arbitration. Consumers generally don’t pay anything to join a class action.
- Consumers typically wait 150 days for a decision in arbitration, compared with a typical wait of around 215 days for a conclusion in most class actions.
Arbitration is certainly not cheaper—especially considering the average consumer pays a bank or lender $7,725 in the end—and only a couple months faster.
Finally, opponents of the rule argue that allowing consumers to join together in court will increase consumer costs and decrease available credit. This claim is contradicted by real-life experience. Consumers saw no increase in price after Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, and HSBC dropped their arbitration clauses as a result of court-approved settlements, and mortgage rates did not increase after Congress banned forced arbitration in the mortgage market.
The numbers are clear: class actions return hundreds of millions to consumers, while forced arbitration only pays off for banks and lenders.
Sources: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “New Protections against Mandatory Arbitration,” web page accessed July 31, 2017; Sylvan Lane, “GOP Lawmakers Introduce Measures to Repeal Consumer Bureau Arbitration Rule,” The Hill, July 20, 2017; U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, “Senators File Resolution Disapproving of CFPB Arbitration Rule” (press release), July 20, 2017; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Arbitration Study: Report to Congress, pursuant to Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act § 1028(a), 2015; Adam J. Levitin, “Mandatory Arbitration Offers Bargain-Basement Justice,’ American Banker BankThink (blog), May 13, 2014.
Unless otherwise hyperlinked, the data in this fact sheet are EPI computations of data from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Arbitration Study: Report to Congress, pursuant to Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act § 1028(a), 2015
by Dana Floberg, contributor at CommonDreamsInternet users took a hard loss this week in the fight for broadband privacy and internet freedom — but if you listen to the Republican lawmakers who trashed our privacy rights, you’d think they’d done the opposite.
“Consumers deserve to have the autonomy to control their information and their internet experience,” said Rep. Bill Johnson on Tuesday. A strange statement from a man who subsequently voted to eliminate rules giving people a choice about how ISPs use their personal data.
As Stephen Colbert noted just last night, no voters back home asked their members of Congress to do this. So why did it happen?
There’s a lot of hypocrisy to unpack in privacy opponents’ persistent doublespeak. Let’s break it down.
Last October, the Obama-era FCC passed rules to prevent your ISP from selling sensitive data (like your browsing history) without your express permission. Sen. Jeff Flake sponsored legislation (using a sneaky process called the Congressional Review Act) to destroy the FCC’s rules and strip internet users of these critical broadband privacy protections. Senate Republicans passed the bill, much to the delight of their cable and telecom industry backers, without a single Democratic senator’s vote.
“Republicans’ flip-flopping gives away the lie.”
In the House, Democrats again held firm without a single defection, and 15 Republicans listened to their constituents back home and voted the right way. But it wasn’t enough to save broadband privacy.
The majority of congressional Republicans have tried to defend their terrible decision by insisting that a resolution that takes away privacy protections won’t actually take away privacy protections.
“Despite false claims to the contrary, using the CRA will not leave consumers unprotected,” Flake told the Senate last week. “That’s because the FCC is already obligated to police the privacy practices of broadband providers under Section 222 of the Communications Act.”
That’s a nice idea, but it’s not what the Flake’s industry-lobbyist friends told the FCC earlier this year. Cable and telecom lobby group NCTA argued in comments filed in January that “Section 222 was designed to apply only to voice telephony services,” and that any use of the law to protect broadband privacy would qualify as “unlawful exercises of authority.”
Were they lying then, or are they lying now?
And that’s just one of many GOP lies. Unless Republican leaders plan to keep broadband classified as a Title II service, their promise of Section 222 protection is utterly bankrupt. Section 222 is part of Title II, and it applies to broadband providers only if broadband internet access remains properly classified as a Title II service. But industry lobbyists and Republicans in both the FCC and Congress have declared war on Title II, and promised to scrap it along with the strong Net Neutrality protections it supports.
House Republicans insisted during Tuesday’s floor debate that if they succeed in destroying Title II, and thus eliminate the FCC’s ability to protect your online privacy entirely, the Federal Trade Commission will protect your privacy instead. Another pleasant idea betrayed by the GOP’s actions: Republicans in Congress have been pushing legislation that Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone described as a “systematic attempt to dismantle the FTC in order to prevent it from carrying out its mission of protecting consumers.”
In essence, the GOP leaders and members voting the wrong way this week have accomplished an exquisitely dishonest trifecta. They gutted the FCC’s privacy rules based on a Title II statute while claiming that the Title II statute still protects you. Then they promised to gut the same Title II statute while claiming that the FTC still protects you. And it turns out they want to gut the FTC too — the very same agency they’re holding up as a champion of privacy protections.
Last but not least, these lawmakers say the FTC’s approach to online privacy is superior because the agency analyzes each potential violation on a case-by-case basis while the FCC’s privacy protections are rooted in broad bright-line rules.
That’s also what they used to say about Net Neutrality — let’s do it case by case — until the FCC adopted stronger open internet protections coupled with stronger enforcement authority. Now the same Republican lawmakers and the cable lobbyists who love them insist that bright-line Net Neutrality rules are the only way to resolve industry “uncertainty.”
You have to wonder how they can make all of these contradictory claims with a straight face and a clear conscience. The truth is that some policymakers care only about protecting the bottom lines of a few giant companies like Comcast and AT&T.
Like Lucy pulling away the football, the GOP in D.C. keeps yanking away privacy protections and then promising that next time will be different. But whenever we do something to protect people on the internet, they invent a new procedural argument to undermine it. “You can use Section 222.” Yank. “How about the FTC?” Yank. “Just give case-by-case regulation a try.” Yank. Like Charlie Brown, we should stop falling for it.
Republicans’ flip-flopping gives away the lie. Their complaints about broadband privacy aren’t principled procedural objections, but thinly veiled attempts at moving the goalposts to ensure consumers always receive the weakest possible protections.
With the aid of their industry donors, the GOP has tried to frame this fight as a debate about complex legal authority and bureaucratic procedures. The reality is much simpler.
They’re opposed to any regulations that put the interests of real people before the profit margins of monopoly ISPs, and they will take up whatever nonsensical procedural complaints are handy to chip away at strong consumer protections.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
— by Robert Reich
House Speaker Paul Ryan, in his press conference following the demise of his bill to replace Obamacare, blamed Republicans who had failed to grasp that the GOP was now a “governing party.”
“We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” said Ryan. “You just had to be against it. Now, in three months’ time, we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with each other on how we do things.”
It was, he said, “the growing pains of government.”
Apparently Ryan doesn’t grasp that he put forward a terrible bill to begin with. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it would have resulted in 24 million Americans losing health coverage over the next decade, hardly make a dent in the federal debt, and transfer over $600 billion to the wealthiest members of American society.
The so-called “Freedom Caucus” of House Republicans, who refused to go along with the bill, wanted it even worse. Essentially, their goal (and that of their fat-cat patrons) was to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at all.
Ryan is correct about one thing. Congress is in the hands of Republicans who for years have only said “no.” They have become expert at stopping whatever a president wants to do but they don’t have a clue how to initiate policy.
Most of the current Republican House members have not shared responsibility for governing the nation. They have never even passed a budget into law.
But their real problem isn’t the “growing pains” of being out of power. In reality, the Republicans who are now control the House – as well as the Senate – don’t like government. They’re temperamentally and ideologically oriented to opposing it, not leading it.
Their chronic incapacity to govern didn’t reveal itself as long as a Democrat was in the White House. They let President Obama try to govern, and pretended that their opposition was based on a different philosophy governing.
Now that they have a Republican president, they can no longer hide. They have no philosophy of governing at all.
Sadly for them – and for the rest of the country, and the world – the person they supported in the election of 2016 and who is now president is an unhinged narcissistic child who tweets absurd lies and holds rallies to prop up his fragile ego.
His conflicts of financial interest are legion. His entire presidency is under a “gray cloud” of suspicion for colluding with Russian agents to win office.
Here’s a man who’s advised by his daughter, his son-in-law, and an oddball who once ran a white supremacist fake-news outlet.
His Cabinet is an assortment of billionaires, CEOs, veterans of Wall Street, and ideologues, none of whom has any idea about how to govern and most of whom don’t believe in the laws their departments are in charge of implementing anyway.
Meanwhile, he has downgraded or eviscerated groups of professionals responsible for giving presidents professional advice on foreign policy, foreign intelligence, economics, science, and domestic policy.
He gets most of what he learns from television.
So we have a congress with no capacity to govern, and a president who’s incapable of governing.
Which leaves the most powerful nation in the world rudderless.
The country on whom much of the rest of the world relies for organizing and mobilizing responses to the major challenges facing humankind is leaderless.
It is of course possible that Republicans in congress will learn to take responsibility for governing. It is possible that Donald Trump will learn to lead. It is possible that pigs will learn to fly.
But such things seem doubtful. Instead, America and the rest of the world must hold our collective breath, hoping that the next elections – the midterms of 2018 and then the presidential election of 2020 – set things right. And hoping that in the meantime nothing irrevocably awful occurs.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.
Every 25 mins, a person completes suicide w a gun. #GunViolence and #MassShootings are on the rise. #Republicans continue to blame the shootings on ‘mentally deranged’ people in need of mental healthcare. Yet, they just repealed a rule that would have helped to prevent mentally-ill individuals from purchasing guns. Now, their touted #TrumpUpCare bill would remove all requirements for healthcare policies to include Mental Healthcare coverage.
— Author Unknown
Several of my friends on the right side of the spectrum have said that we should “work together” with the president and the Republican majority because they won the election and Trump is now “everyone’s president.” This is my response:
- I will not forget how badly Trump and so many of his followers treated former President Barack Obama for 8 solid years opposing any and all efforts he took to pull our nation out of the ditch in which President Obama’s predecessor (a Republican) left us.
- I will not “work together” to privatize Medicare, cut Social Security and Medicaid.
- I will not “work together” to build a wall.
- I will not “work together” to persecute Muslims.
- I will not “work together” in deporting 11 million people en masse, separating non-citizen mothers and/or fathers from their children who were born on our soil.
- I will not “work together” to shut out refugees from other countries.
- I will not “work together” to lower taxes on the 1% and increase taxes on the middle class and poor.
- I will not “work together” to help Trump use the Presidency to line his pockets and those of his family and cronies.
- I will not “work together” to weaken and demolish environmental protection.
- I will not “work together” to sell American lands, especially National Parks, to companies which then despoil those lands.
- I will not “work together” to enable the killing of whole species of animals just because they are predators, or inconvenient for a few, or because some people like killing them.
- I will not “work together” to remove civil rights from anyone.
- I will not “work together” to alienate countries that have been our allies for as long as I have been alive.
- I will not “work together” to slash funding for education.
- I will not “work together” to take basic assistance from people who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
- I will not “work together” to get rid of common sense regulations on guns.
- I will not “work together” to eliminate the minimum wage.
- I will not “work together” to support so-called “Right To Work” laws, or undermine, weaken or destroy Unions in any way.
- I will not “work together” to suppress scientific research, be it on climate change, fracking, or any other issue where a majority of scientists agree that Trump and his supporters are wrong on the facts.
- I will not “work together” to criminalize abortion or restrict access to reproductive health care for women.
- I will not “work together” to increase the number of nations that have nuclear weapons.
- I will not “work together” to put even more “big money” into politics.
- I will not “work together” to violate the Geneva Convention.
- I will not “work together” to give the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party and white supremacists a seat at the table, or to normalize their hatred
- I will not “work together” to deny health care to people who need it.
- I will not “work together” to deny medical coverage to people on the basis of a “pre-existing condition.”
- I will not “work together” to increase voter suppression.
- I will not “work together” to normalize tyranny.
- I will not “work together” to eliminate or reduce ethical oversite at any level of government.
- I will not “work together” with anyone who is, or admires, tyrants and dictators.
- I will not “work together” to give less support to government employees.
- I will not “work together” to find ways for the billionaires to cheat the system.
- I will not “work together” to implement a hiring freeze at government agencies.
- I will not “work together” to suppress reporters’ right to ask questions the administrations does not like.
- I will not “work together” to bully any country, big or small.
- I will not “work together” to craft a message diminishing women and young adults.
- I will not “work together” with anyone who wants to deposit their nuclear waste products in Yucca Mountain just up the road from Nevada’s most populous area within our state.
- I will not support anyone who thinks its OK to put a pipeline on Sacred Ground for Native Americans that would be used to to transport tar sands immersed in solvent and subject to frequent massive leaks. Said pipeline would also run under the Missouri River and atop the Ogallala aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of people and irrigates our nation’s bread basket. It’s an accident of horrific consequence just waiting to happen.
This is my line, and I am drawing it.
- I WILL stand with those who fight for honesty, love, and respect for all living beings in any legislation proposed and in governance actions used for implementation of such legislation.
Republican Grim Reapers just showed us exactly where they stand!
— by Melissa Boteach and Jeremy Slevin (with embellishments from this site’s editor)
Last night while you were sleeping, the Senate debated and ultimately passed a budget resolution that provides a pathway for Republicans to strip health care coverage away from 30 million Americans without having a single Democratic vote.
As the Senate debated the resolution that provides a blueprint to repeal the Affordable Care Act, both Republicans and Democrats had the opportunity to offer a flurry of rapid-fire amendments in a process known as “vote-a-rama” where a 3/5 vote (60 votes) were required for passage. While these votes are non-binding, the exercise provides an opportunity for senators to show where their colleagues stand on a number of key issues. And the results are not pretty.
Senate Republicans took several votes that showed they are not on your side. Last night, Republicans voted against amendments that would:
- Protect people with pre-existing conditions — REJECTED
Republicans blocked an amendment that would have made it harder to take away coverage from Americans with preexisting medical conditions. 52 million people — about 1 in 4 non-elderly Americans — have preexisting conditions. These Americans are more likely to face significant health costs, and before the Affordable Care Act, were often denied coverage entirely. The amendment also would have protected coverage for people disabilities or chronic health conditions, and prevent plans from discriminating based on health. Republicans currently have no alternative plan to insure people with preexisting conditions. Only two Republicans — Maine’s Susan Collins and Nevada’s Dean Heller — voted for the amendment (Roll Call Vote #15, Rejected 49-49, Heller voted YEA).
- Let young adults stay on their parents’ plan — REJECTED
Republicans blocked an amendment by Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Roll Call Vote #12, Heller voted NAY) that would have made it easier young people to stay on their parents’ health care plan until they are 26 — one of the most popular and effective provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Over 6 million young adults have gained health insurance since the law was implemented in 2010, and young Americans now report better physical and mental health. The provision is also overwhelmingly popular — 85 percent favor keeping young people on their parents’ insurance plans.
- Maintain access to contraceptive coverage— REJECTED
Thanks to Obamacare, birth control is more affordable than ever. Spending on contraceptive health care has gone down by 20 percent since the Affordable Care Act took effect. An amendment by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sought to continue this momentum. Unsurprisingly, Republicans blocked the provision 49–49. Sens. Collins and Heller both voted with Democrats. (Roll Call Vote #23, Heller voted YEA)
- Ensure Medicaid expansion stays in place— REJECTED
Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act benefited 11 million low-income Americans in 2015 alone and has created thousands of jobs for direct care workers. An amendment by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) would have sought to continue Medicaid expansion, but it was blocked by Republicans — 48–50 (Roll Call Vote # 18, Heller voted YEA).
- Protect children on Medicaid or CHIP— REJECTED
Republicans blocked an amendment offered by Senator Brown (D-OH) that would make it harder to ensure children could keep their health coverage on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), both of which provide comprehensive health care services for children including key preventive and developmental care. Sens. Heller and Collins were the only two senators who bucked their party on the Sen. Brown amendment (Roll Call Vote #25, Heller voted YEA)
- Protect veterans’ health care— REJECTED
Republicans blocked an amendment by Sen. Tester (D-MT) that would have made it harder to restrict veterans’ ability to access VA health care. While Democrats have sought to provide better funding and health care access at the VA, Donald Trump has proposed eliminating the Veterans Administration altogether through privatization. A poll in 2015 found that almost two-thirds of survey respondents oppose plans to replace VA health care with a voucher system, an idea backed by many Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates. (Roll Call Vote #14, Heller voted YEA)
Republicans say they want to replace Obamacare with something better. But in just one night’s votes, they indicated that they are not willing to take a stand to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions, women, children, veterans, young adults, people with disabilities, and struggling families can continue to access the affordable coverage they need going forward.
Melissa Boteach is the Vice President of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), and Jeremy Slevin is the Associate Director of Advocacy for the same program. ThinkProgress is an editorially independent site housed at CAPAF.
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter
To view the entirety of the vote-arama session, click on the “CONGRESS” link in the header. Open up tab for the Senate 115th session.
To get an idea of what else you’ll find there are a number of amendments that would have protected Medicaid, Medicare AND Social Security Benefits as well as provisions for Rural Hospitals (like the one in Winnemucca):
- Roll Call Vote #5 – REJECTED (Heller voted YEA): To strengthen Social Security and Medicare without raiding it to pay for new Government programs, like Obamacare, that have failed Americans by increasing premiums and reducing affordable health care options, to reform Medicaid without prioritizing able-bodied adults over the disabled, and to return regulation of insurance to State governments.
- Roll Call Vote #6 – REJECTED (Heller voted NAY ): Bernie Sanders Amdt: To prevent the Senate from breaking Donald Trump’s promise that “there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
- Roll Call Vote #7 – REJECTED (Heller voted NAY): To create a point of order against legislation that would repeal health reforms that closed the prescription drug coverage gap under Medicare.
- Roll Call Vote #10 – REJECTED (Heller voted YEA): To create a point of order against legislation that would harm rural hospitals and health care providers.
- Roll Call Vote#20 – REJECTED (Heller voted YEA): To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada.
Roll Call Vote 26, which required only 51 votes for passage to pass the concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2017 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2018 through 2026, was indeed passed an agreed to. That budget defunds the Affordable Care Act, and strips all funding within that bill that strengthened and extended the viability of Medicare making it easier for Republicans to defend their stance that it needs to be completely reformed and privatized. Senator Heller voted FOR passage of S.Con.Res 3 which will defund healthcare. Thus, his vote-arama “point-of-order” votes appear to be just for show so he can claim he supports healthcare, but when it came down to party allegiances, he clearly voted against his Nevada constituents.
Are we going to let interest group politics undermine public safety?
By Jill Richardson
The incoming Republican government is waging a war against regulations.
“For every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated,” Donald Trump promised after the November vote. Since then, Republicans in Congress have voted to give themselves broader authority to strike down federal rules of all kinds.
The way I see the difference between liberals and conservatives is, in part, in their different approaches to our flawed body of regulations. Liberals think we should keep them and improve them. Conservatives would rather scrap many of them altogether.
Both approaches confront the same problem: No government run by humans will ever be perfect. Some regulations give us clean drinking water and safe food, whereas others may be outdated or poorly written.
And when you’re the one on the wrong side of the red tape — the small business owner hindered by regulations written for enormous corporations, or the innocent person wrongfully placed on the No Fly List — your anger and frustration are justified.
Yet regulations are, at their core, intended to protect us.
Some are designed to keep terrorists off airplanes or keep violent felons from buying guns. Others ensure that pharmaceuticals are safe and effective, and that food is free from Salmonella and E. coli. Still others keep our air and water clean.
When we get down to the details, no doubt we’ll differ over what our regulations ought to be. We can debate over what the latest science supports, and what’s in the best interest of the American people.
Each of us will have different interests of our own, too. If you put representatives of the pesticide industry, conventional and organic farmers, consumers, and doctors around a table, you’ll probably hear a wide range of views about how pesticides ought to be regulated.
But when it comes down to it, most liberal and conservative voters alike want a safe, healthy, and prosperous country for all. They just don’t agree on how to get there.
We all want to be sure that food we buy from the store is honestly labeled and safe to eat. We all want the water coming out of our taps to be safe to drink. We don’t want the environment polluted so that our kids get asthma, or more people get cancer. We want the pharmaceuticals we buy to work.
We want to be secure. We want law enforcement to be effective. We want good roads and schools. We want consumer goods we buy to be safe. We want a thriving economy. At their best, that’s what regulations give us.
Sometimes, of course, they don’t.
But is the answer to wage war on “regulations” as a whole, or to review them and improve them?
A good regulation protects American citizens in some way. A good regulation is effective and based on the latest science. A good regulation is only imposed where necessary, because the government should avoid restricting the activities of private citizens and businesses wherever possible.
Should we prune away regulations that aren’t fair or effective? Absolutely.
And we’ll have ideological differences between liberals and conservatives, as well as between different interest groups, over what constitutes a fair and effective regulation.
But there’s no need to vilify regulations altogether. When they serve a purpose protecting the American people, they’re in fact part of what makes this country great.
OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
— by Michael Phelan, Social Security Works
donald trump won’t be sworn in for two weeks, but Republicans in Congress have already begun their assault on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
On the first day of the new Congress, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced a budget resolution to repeal the Affordable Care Act and set the stage to destroy Medicare.
In recent weeks, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been pushing a lie that’s disgusting even by his standards. He claims that the Affordable Care Act has hurt Medicare’s finances when the exact opposite is true. And therefore, says Ryan, we need to destroy Medicare in order to “save it.”
donald trump ran on a promise to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from Republican attacks! Social Security Works and Senator Bernie Sanders in demanding that trump keep his promise.
Senator Sanders is organizing a national day of action on Sunday, January 15th. Rallies will be held around the country demanding that trump keep his promise and pledge to veto all cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
With complete control of Congress and the White House, Republicans are unleashing their plan to destroy our earned benefits. We must fight back and remind them that nobody voted for these devastating cuts!
Instead of cuts to our earned benefits, we should expand the most successful social insurance programs in our country’s history.
Press Release from Public Citizen
Note: Due to enormous public backlash, U.S. House Republican leaders today walked back an overreaching amendment passed behind closed doors that would have stripped the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) of its independence and much of its power. The OCE, an independent ethics office, was set up in 2008 in the aftermath of numerous corruption scandals.
Lisa Gilbert, director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division:
Public outrage over House Republican’s appalling, secretive midnight actions to embolden corruption and congressional profiteering in the coming congress has forced the House GOP to reverse course. The OCE has proven invaluable to congress and the public by opening up the ethics process. Not only should it stay as is, it should be given more statutory authority and subpoena power.
The Office of Congressional Ethics was created to bring accountability to a broken House ethics system. Before the creation of the office, the House Ethics Committee was a black box of inaction. The office has brought transparency and action to a moribund process and received nothing but praise from those watching the congressional ethics system. It’s great that public pressure forced this reversal, but the readiness of the House Caucus to pursue this action is a profoundly troubling signal of what we should expect in the years to come.
Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. Holman helped set up the Office of Congressional Ethics:
The attempt by House Republicans to rid themselves of their own ethical constraints has temporarily foiled. We are thrilled by this change as we certainly should never return to an era of robber barons running our government, doing whatever they see fit.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.