Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House, has been gradually unveiling the new GOP agenda over the last couple of weeks that will define Republican policy strategy for the next few months, and unsurprisingly, it is the exact same agenda they’ve been pushing for the past eight years. Last week, Ryan focused on a new economic and regulatory agenda – or rather a deregulatory agenda – which has come under fire for undoing critical protections for consumers, the environment, students, investors, and basically handing our economy to the wealthiest American on a platter.
Ryan and the GOP’s agenda is deeply concerned with the money that corporations must spend complying with regulations but not about the thousands of lives that are bettered every year by their existence. As the New York Times aptly puts it, “it assumes regulations have only costs and no benefits. It harps on corporate compliance costs while ignoring the social and economic benefits of, say, clean air, clean water, time-and-a-half for overtime, properly underwritten loans and adequate bank capital, to name just a few of the regulatory targets.”
A great society is not simply built on corporations that run rampant and seize everything they can with total disregard for economic inequality and environmental damage. Corporations do not represent citizens or the public interest, so it is critical that the government plays a role in protecting the best interest of the American people and their communities.
Conservative critics of the current Administration complain that current regulations do crazy things like “shutter coal-fired power plants, because heaven forbid we phase out the worst polluting source of energy.” Ryan’s plan even goes so far as to call for repealing the Clean Air Act, and stop the federal government from ensuring clean water – both actions would be devastating for public health as well as the environment that we will pass on to future generations of Americans. Corporations will not stand up for our right to breath clean air or enjoy clean water, so we must not put them in charge of the environment.
As evidenced by the 2008 financial crash, big banks need to be regulated to protect the average American citizen – but Ryan aims to repeal financial regulations. He is trying to commit a great injustice against the American people, who he would throw to the mercy of ultra-rich bankers who have every incentive to risk the health of the economy at large to line their own pockets and then laugh as Rome burns behind them.
He also opposes regulating for-profit colleges that deceive would-be students and manipulate them into taking on debt to fund degrees that are not real qualifications.
Ryan barely attempts to defend his economic plan as being good for the average American, probably because it is such a blatant lie that it would be laughable. Ryan callously advocates for measures that would increase the wealth of corporations and cares only about the regulations that corporations have to deal with, not with the financial insecurity, toxic environment, and corporate manipulation the middle and working classes have to deal with every day of their lives.
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