Comment: How did regulation become a dirty word?

When Ronald Reagan was elected, rich Republicans saw an opportunity to cut their taxes, but how do you sell to voters a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich? The answer was to invent a new economic paradigm: Cut taxes for the rich, and they’ll reward you by giving you jobs. Reaganomics was born, and Republicans rejoiced. The prosperous period that followed was the result of massive deficit spending to fuel an enormous military buildup, but causation is not correlation, and the narrative that cutting taxes results in economic growth was enshrined in the Republican doctrine.

scdc-comment.jpgReagonomics is now debunked, and the GOP needs a new way to sell an idea that makes rich people richer to the average voter. The Republicans found their new bogeyman in regulations. Regulations stand in the way of profits, and they must be stopped. Republicans are cheered when they heap scornful words on protections for workers, the environment, our food supply, and so on.

Less than three months into a Republican trifecta of federal government control, Trump and team has been busy:

  • He rescinded an Obama regulation requiring utilities to reduce CO2 emissions 30% by 2050
  • He ordered the EPA to change a rule giving it authority to regulate pollution of streams and ponds
  • He relieved companies of the duty to report labor law violations when bidding on federal contracts
  • He allowed states to make up their own rules for drug testing applicants for unemployment benefits
  • He made it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns
  • He signed a bill allowing Internet providers to sell data about their users' browsing habits
  • He killed a rule prohibiting coal mines from dumping wastes into streams
  • He has started the procedure for preventing 4 million workers from getting paid overtime

The next midterm election is a year and a half away, our next opportunity to wrest control of one or two branches of government to put an end to this, but a lot can happen in that time. In 2017 we can build a firewall around New Jersey to protect us. Elect a Democratic governor, and create veto-proof, Democratic majorities in the State Senate and Assembly.