Trump waging War on Workers and Consumers

“Donald Trump is waging a regulatory war the likes of which we’ve never seen,” against workers and consumers, a top pro-consumer legislator, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., says. And Trump’s not the only one.

Another speaker on a panel hosted by the National Consumers League, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional law professor, added the GOP-named Supreme Court majority to the right-wing mix that trashes workers and consumers, too. And Raskin forecast workers face further threats down the road from the courts.

Markey and Raskin launched those criticisms of Trump while and after accepting the National Consumers League’s Trumpeter Awards, given to outstanding consumer advocates and activists. Both later amplified on them in a panel discussion with the other winners at NCL’s awards dinner in D.C. on Oct. 16.

And NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, in her opening remarks, pledged the crusade against Trump’s deregulatory schemes would continue. “We’ll continue to fight for consumer and worker protections despite these egregious and dangerous rollbacks,” she said.

It’s going to be a counter-war, Markey and Raskin pointed out.

“Every generation has a responsibility” to uphold democracy, “but this generation has even more of one because of this president,” the senator declared after getting his Trumpeter.

Raskin subbed for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who was stuck on Capitol Hill. Both Markey and Raskin jumped right in during the panel discussion afterwards.

“We’re at a particularly dangerous time. While Donald Trump may think NCL stands for ‘neutering consumer laws,’ we know NCL means ‘never compromise liberties,’” Markey said.

Quoting the ancient lawgiver Hammurabi, Markey added: “The purpose of the law is to protect the unprotected.”

Trump’s reign has been marked by a wide rollback of pro-consumer, pro-worker and pro-environment rules. They range from denial of human creation of climate change to changing “net neutrality” to let Internet providers discriminate among customers to rolling back civil rights protections to yanking worker safety and health rules.

All are Trump initiatives Markey, Duckworth, Raskin, the other Trumpeter winners, and the NCL have fought against. Markey’s most recent win, NCL noted, was the passage of a Senate measure disapproving – and potentially dumping – the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” decision.

Though his measure got bipartisan support in the GOP-run Senate, it’s gone nowhere, so far, in the Republican-run House. The Senate passed another Markey initiative, cosponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., “to force airlines to stop their rapid ascent” in fees for everything from checking baggage to reserving seats.

But in yet another indication of corporate clout during the Trump regime, airline lobbyists killed that fee halt “in the dead of night” as lawmakers hammered out the final version of the recent federal airline law, Markey admitted. He pledged to try again next year.

Labor laws have also come in for Trump’s ire, as well as that of Congress’ ruling Republicans, said Raskin.

“The Janus decision” by the GOP majority on the Supreme Court, making every state and local worker a “free rider,” “opened a dramatic new offensive in the campaign” by the GOP and its right-wing rulers and business backers “to try to destroy American unions and rip up what’s left of the National Labor Relations Act and the right to organize,” he declared.

But instead of using the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce clause to empower corporations over the rest of us, as the High Court did until the New Deal, the justices are cloaking their rulings in corporate and individual 1st Amendment “free speech” rights, said Raskin.

Continuing that trend would take us back to the days before Teddy Roosevelt, said Raskin, who is also a constitutional law professor and son of Marcus Raskin, co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank.

Using free speech to aid firms “is part of the glorification and lionization of corporations, starting with the Citizens United decision” that opened campaigns to a tsunami of corporate cash by declaring corporations are people with the same rights to unlimited political giving.

“They’ve transformed every corporate treasury into a political slush fund to conquer and aggrandize everyone else,” Raskin said of the court majority. “I want corporations to succeed – but not to govern.”

Markey, however, saw some signs of hope in Congress’ refusal to repeal the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, after enormous public pressure forced key GOP senators to backtrack on that party promise.

And he noted that while now-disgraced former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Trump refuse to enforce environmental regulations – and while Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Change accords – they haven’t been able to repeal the 48-year-old environmental law itself.

“We have to intensify our efforts over the next two years so that when our children look back in reference books, they’ll have trouble finding a page named for a president named Donald Trump,” Markey concluded.