Trump’s Tweets Are a Sideshow: His Executive Orders Are Building a Corporate State
Posted on Feb 7, 2017
By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet
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The destructive toll of Donald Trump’s presidency is beginning to emerge, foreshadowing what’s likely to come as the White House and congressional Republicans begin to reverse, repeal and replace federal laws and regulations and downsize agencies.
While Trump’s red-state supporters may be cheering now, they’ll soon feel the consequences. Take the Muslim travel ban, if upheld. Thousands of the doctors across rural America are from the countries targeted by Trump, a new analysis by FiveThirtyEight.com reported. “It’s no secret that the U.S. faces a physician shortage in many parts of the country, especially when it comes to doctors in relatively low-paying specialties like primary care and psychiatry.”
Add to that whatever is done to undermine Obamacare and Medicaid, and one set of dominos is lining up and poised to fall. A possible doctor shortage in the regions that elected Trump is only the start. Since taking office, a mixture of Trump’s executive orders, new proposed legislation in Congress and directives by just-installed agency heads—the first in a coming wave of appointees—is taking aim to destroy a swath of policies adopted to enhance public health, protect the environment and help ordinary Americans by curbing corporate greed.
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“If people had a sense of the number of threats to local decision making there are, either under consideration or that have already been passed by legislatures, their heads would spin,” Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, told PewTrust’s Stateline, in a new piece forecasting more conflict.
It Starts at the Top
Trump’s executive orders may be vague, overreaching and even unconstitutional in some cases, promising more than the intricate legal gears of government can deliver. But they set an unmistakable tone and direction. To review, his first was to overturn Obamacare, followed by freezing new federal regulations and hiring of non-military employees; barring funds for international family planning; reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; speeding up issuing of permits to thwart environmental impact review; building a Mexican border wall; expanding the federal deportation machine; deregulating Wall St. finance rules, and more.
Critics have been quick to pounce on the inconsistent and hypocritical statements made by Trump and his team. Last Friday, for example, when surrounded by top Wall Street bankers as he signed an order intended to gut the Dodd-Frank financial reform, Trump said, “We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because frankly I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses and they can’t borrow money.”
Two days later on Fox News Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence fed the network most watched by Trump’s base a different line. “The message that we are sending to Main Street is that we are going to pull back this mountain of red tape that is stifling access to capital and loans.”
Trump’s critics may sneer at Trump for bowing to Wall Street while Pence panders to Main Street, and pledge to carry on resisting. But such personal reactions ignore a growing privatization juggernaut. Beyond the nonstop coverage of the president’s latest dumb tweets, a deeper and darker narrative is unfolding at a policy level. In almost all areas of public responsibility, the fulcrum upon which government moves is swiftly being redirected. And it is almost impossible to keep up with small changes that will have big impacts.
For example, look at what the Federal Communications Commission just did after Trump elevated Ajit Pai, an ex-lawyer for Verizon who was in the panel’s minority of Republicans under Obama, as its new chairman. Under Pai, the FEC released a dozen directives further privatizing the internet in ways that prey on consumers.
“He stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service to low-income individuals. He withdrew an effort to keep prison phone rates down, and he scrapped an effort to break open the cable box market,” the New York Times reported. A Wall Street industry analyst said, “The speed of the ruling and the chairman’s tone are very encouraging to internet service providers. I think it’s a down payment on [cutting] net neutrality, with much more to follow.”
Pai didn’t need Senate confirmation, which is the case for the thousands of federal appointees each president makes. As Matt Wood, policy director for Free Press said, “The public wants an FCC that helps people. Instead, it got one that does favors for powerful corporations that its chairman used to work for.”
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